A September Morning

The sky

Crystal blue in its brilliance

The air breezy, light and warm

A beautiful day but not perfect

We remarked that there were no clouds

And wonder now, were they frightened away by impending

Horrors to come?

The bliss of our ignorance a comfort still.

 

A glorious backdrop

For a summer day thrown into sharp contrast

A decent into darkness, confusion and doom.

From ferries, bridges, building windows and street corners…

We came to identify, were slapped hard by, the worst within us

We came to know and taste the hate

We shook from the violation

We cried from the pain, the loss, the fear.

 

We saw what we should not see

We smelled what no one should smell

We felt, though we could not feel

Our senses blurred and betrayed

Our minds unable to conceive or believe.

A sleepless city silenced and stunned.

 

From near,  explosions ripped through buildings and  hearts

Fire and noise and glass and panic

Plummeting potential lost to despair

Then, billowing clouds of smoke and death

 

From far, the stillness remained for a time. For a time.

As news traveled, streets emptied

No traffic. No people. No noise and, no planes.

No planes.

 

Unrelenting rays of sunshine attempted to warm blood run cold

An endless sea of blue sky our only shroud for man-made hell

Heaven a far away witness

As we reached out for desperate consolation.

The Sky

Crystal blue in its brilliance.

(2004)

It took me 3 years, after witnessing the explosions on September 11th, from a Staten Island ferry set to take off for Wall Street, to write this poem. What could not be conveyed on the Evening News  was the smell of death that hung over the city for weeks as the fire continued to burn from within.  That the National Guard stopped us in cars and buses to sweep for bombs before we drove over bridges and into tunnels or patrolled commuter buses, staring us down, to ensure there weren’t terrorists in our midst. That the only sound that we heard at first, and what persisted for weeks and months were sirens from police and fire department vehicles.  That no matter where you went, from supermarket to library, there were pictures of those who perished, plastered everywhere. And so many funerals that whole streets were blocked off and traffic diverted, for them to take place.  Funerals that went on for years.  That FDNY firehouses lost large numbers of men, my fire department having lost 11 (11 in Heaven). That people were panicking-in subways when hysteria set in and in underwater tunnels when traffic was stopped on the FDR highway for the huge metal beams from the WTC to be transported to barges.  That in a city with 3 major airports and constant air traffic, the resulting silence was deafening when that traffic came to a halt.  And when planes took to the skies again, people held their breath or panicked when planes went overhead or seemed to fly too close.  Not to mention that only two months after the attacks on September 11th, there was a major plane crash in Queens, NY, where another 260 people died and which sent us all over the edge again. And that if there was a possible threat, the city would shut down essential bridges and tunnels leaving people stranded or unable to return to their homes for hours. The effects of this day lasted years and for those who lost loved ones, a lifetime.

We Will Never Forget all who lost their lives and all who worked “the pile” to  reclaim the World Trade Center and our city, piece by piece.

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “A September Morning

    • I know. I know we’ve come a long way since that time but that was the feeling on the day and for the following year or so. Thanks for reading and for your compliment!

      • Pretty stark to hear these sentiments from someone who lived it. I saw the new construction a month or so ago, glad that something is appearing on that spot.

  1. Anonymous

    Dana ,this piece is so well written ! It really captured the thoughts I’m sure of every New Yorker and every American on that fatefull day!! well done !!

    • Thanks for reading it and for you comments, I appreciate it! I’m sure everyone had there own perspective and experience, I can only speak for myself on this one : )

  2. Anonymous

    Something we will neve forget, amazing that you have captured it so well
    so proud of you xxx

  3. Reblogged this on Virginia Views and commented:
    Another anniversary of 9-11. This tribute to the fallen by Dana of Serene Scribe reminds us all.

  4. wow, thats some powerful stuff. I’m glad you raised all those details that were not covered by the media, and people need to be made aware of them. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have felt seeing all the endless funeral procession…
    Thanks again for another great insight! Its a really sensitive topic and you covered it eloqently, as usual 🙂

    • Thanks Chris, my view of events but not everyone’s, I know. It was a very hard year and I didn’t lose anyone that day. Can’t imagine what life was like for those who did.

  5. Rita

    Dana, You certainly captured what we went through that day and for so long after. I would like to add other elements of my own experience. As you know we lived on the street that was part of the route to the city dump. Every night for what seemed forever, the caravan of trucks that carried everything excavated from “the pile” went by our house. It not only carried steel from the buildings, personal belongings and business papers, furniture, equipment and things from people caught in the mayhem on the street when the buildings came down, it also carried bits and pieces of the victims. I guess someone made the decision for the trucks to move at night so as not to stun onlookers, however we heard them moving down our block and knew what they carried. Sleep was dificult to say the least. As you said, although we were blessed not to have lost anyone that day still we felt mourning all around us for many, many months and we also mourned, it seemed for an eternity. Just a few blocks from our homes we couldn’t help but see the empty, smoking space in the Manhattan skyline every time we drove through that area. And each time the president came into the city fighter planes flew low over our homes and menacingly buzzed our streets while commercial planes were banned in the area. It was obvious that they were ready to use deadly force if anything seemed suspicious. Every year on 9/11 I’m brought back to those memories and feelings. However, it seems to help when these memories can be shared. Thank you for your eloquent poem and thoughts and memories.

    • You reminded me of things I’d forgotten though I will always remember when the F16s arrived as they shook the house and me as well. It was horrible to see the barges and the trucks and coming through the tunnel in front of the debris every day. There was no escaping it. Thank you for writing this comment and glad we spent that horrible day together at least xo.

  6. Even though I live on the other side of the world and have only seen the horror on tv and in movies, I still cry for those lost and those who while they survived the day, will never survive the grimness and the wickedness of that day. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the citizens of the United States. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the fight to defeat this evil that has sprung up not only in your midst but in ours too.
    Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post.

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment Judith. I have to tell you that it meant so much to know that the rest of the world was with New York during that time. When the Queen had God Save The Queen changed to our national anthem during the changing of the guard, I just lost it. You feel so scared that knowing everyone was with us made it a bit easier somehow-thank you.

  7. Reblogged this on Share Your Stories With Your Family and commented:
    On the anniversary of 9/11 who else could put the thoughts and feelings into words as eloquently as one who saw and lived through the horror.

  8. For whatever reason this has been reblogged on a wordpress site that I no longer use. So I have reblogged it on http://growingyoungereveryday.wordpress.com

  9. Pingback: September Morning | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

  10. It took me a long while to push myself to read this beautifully written post. The subject matter and your writing skills combine and take the reader directly back to that horrible day that I will never forget. I’m very glad I finally read it but it still makes me very sad. Thank you for sharing your perspective. You are an impactful writer.

    • Thanks for the compliments on my writing but I know this wasn’t easy to read because it wasn’t easy to write. Just felt I had to get my voice out there at that time since it took me so long to be able to do that with this subject. Thank you for taking the time to read something that I know brings back bad memories, I’m sorry if I reminded you of the saddness you felt about September 11th. I felt the same and that was why after the first few years I just couldn’t listen to or watch anything. Not sure why I felt the need to this year. Hugs

  11. Pingback: September Morning | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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