poem a day: #4
poem a day: #6

poem a day: #5

9-11Moi This one was almost too easy: write about a landmark. What else does one write about post-9/11 as a New Yorker? I suppose someday we'll get past that but it's still way too fresh. That surprises me, and it surprised me how easily this one came out. I read the prompt this morning, thought about it for maybe two minutes and had the first and last lines in mind within minutes. I actually thought about writing about the Chrysler building for minute, but there aren't any grinding edges that spring immediately to mind as they do for the World Trade Center.


For months, I turned my face away
refusing to look
as the train rumbled over the Manhattan Bridge,
aiming for the border between
safety and war zone.
The gap was too appalling,
the scorched skyline still dark
and smoking, even in the rain.
I looked north and inland
not out to sea where even
Liberty had turned her back.
The lights came on gradually
but one spot remained dark,
an absence, unmarked.
Finally, I left Brooklyn,
decamped to the Bronx
where the passage over water
is barely noticed,
just a stride
of the elevated train
and not a leap over
fast currents on faith.

I still miss that view:
the Brooklyn Bridge lined with tail lights,
the Watchtower sign ticking time
and temperature in Fahrenheit and centigrade,
barges creeping upriver,
South Street Seaport’s
tourist glitter, the harbor
criss-crossed with ferries, all
evidence of the living city.
Something new is rising to fill the gap
and I don’t know that I can bear
to see it either.
No one knows what to call it—
Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center,
or tombstone.

© Lee Kottner, 2009


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Nice poem, Ann. I remember very well my visit to the WTC site during my visit with you. We all need to redouble our efforts against war and violence throughout the world.

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