I didn't want to write anything yesterday unless it was about September 11 or sending good wishes to the victims' families. I wrote last year about visiting the area and the year before about going to the top of the World Trade Center as a child. This is the first year I did not visit on the anniversary. I don't know why, except that going because it seemed like the right thing to do felt like maybe it was driven more by OCD than by genuine desire to memorialize the day. To really memorialize it I should think about it, write about it, do something for the first responders (against whom Paul Ryan voted multiple times -- preferring to deny them health benefits -- I know, no partisan remarks surrounding 9/11 but this guy manages to make Romney look slightly human, and that is no easy feat). 

Still all day I just wasn't acting in line with the way I thought I should be acting. And as I fell asleep, in the back of my mind there was this poem nagging at me. I could only remember September, and oars in the water, the still night, and the overwhelming sense of loss. It's not about September 11, but it seemed like it would fit, for the victims' families. Various google searches with various combinations of the phrases I remembered turned up empty, so finally I sifted through catalogues of poems on loss and death and found it. It's called "September" and it's by Jennifer Michael Hecht from her book The Next Ancient World.

Tonight there must be people who are getting what they want.
I let my oars fall into the water.
Good for them. Good for them, getting what they want.
The night is so still that I forget to breathe.
The dark air is getting colder. Birds are leaving.
Tonight there are people getting just what they need.
The air is so still that it seems to stop my heart.
I remember you in a black and white photograph
taken this time of some year. You were leaning against a half-shed tree,
standing in the leaves the tree had lost.
When I finally exhale it takes forever to be over.
Tonight, there are people who are so happy,
that they have forgotten to worry about tomorrow.
Somewhere, people have entirely forgotten about tomorrow.
My hand trails in the water.
I should not have dropped those oars. Such a soft wind.


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