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Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Poem In Remembrance of 9.11.01

This poem is a work in progress. I have been working on it all day as I have watched the programs memorializing the events of 9.11.01. I am sure I will make more changes as time goes on. But please feel free to send me any comments you might have. I always welcome responses of all kinds.


In the book of Deuteronomy we read of the ritual the people are commanded to enact upon entering the Promised Land. Moses tells people that they are to stand between two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal. As they stand in the valley, curses are to be pronounced from Mount Ebal and blessings from Mount Gerizim.

This is followed by the commandment for the people to utterly and completely destroy all the sites at which the other nations worship their gods in the land of Canaan (to become the “Promised Land”) and a warning that they are not to worship God in a like manner, but to "look only to the site that YHWH your God will choose" (eventually, Jerusalem, the “city of peace/ir shalom”), as the proper place for worship.

I could not help but think of this imagery of the twin mountains on this anniversary of the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The imagery of walking in the valley between the two mountains also brought to mind the 23rd Psalm and it’s traditional translation “Yea, though I would through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For you are with me.”

I also thought of the commandment to destroy the worship sites of other nations in order to worship only in the place that God will command, the city of Peace, as I watched reports on the wars that have been raging since 9/11 and also the anti-Islamic vitriol that has become a part of the public discourse for some.

Keeping all of these thoughts in mind I tried to create a poem to express my thoughts and feelings in this moment. I hope you will find it meaningful.

between the mountains

between the towers

Walking between the mountains

between the towers of blessing and curse

wondering which is which

knowing each is both and neither

the curse permeates all

stench of burning flesh melted steel charred paper asbestos and fuel

the smell of hopes and dreams destroyed

permeating beyond nostrils

filling our souls as it empties them over and over

here in this valley there is no light no life

only deepest darkness and death

the curse is to live to survive when so many have died

true then and now

for those who walked that day between

the mountainous towers of blessing and curse

casting their shadow even after collapse

filling our world with putrid darkness

true for all who lived through the horror

and for those sitting glued to the screen

sorry we could not do more to help

glad we were far enough away from danger

at least for that moment

for ten years we have continued to walk through the valley

of darkness and light shadow and sun blessing and curse

still unable to know in each moment which is which

what once was seemed shadow suddenly bursts with light

what seemed a blessing now seems a curse then again a blessing

people things transformed in our minds through a mere word or gesture

gone are the days when it was simple to distinguish

right and wrong blessing and curse dark and light

if it ever was that easy

since that day when the entire world was immersed

in the valley of death’s shadow

when the obliteration destroyed all creation

the world again a formless void God waiting for us to reshape it

while in the same instance the goodness and godliness

of humanity of the world shone brightly through the darkness

on that day when humanity was at its worst

humanity was also at its best

as curses of hate were shrieked as evil ones sought to destroy our world

cries of blessings of love were uttered by those seeking to repair

from the streets the rooftops the mountains the world

those who survived those who cared

heard in the still small voice within all of us who cared

today the blessings still drown the curses

of those asserting that we must destroy

those claim that hatred can defeat hatred

for we know that it never can

as we walk between the mountains of smoke and shadow

we are called from above and within not to remain in the valley

but to walk through it on our way

to create a city country world

of peace and harmony love and blessing

the task is not easy

the memories of the days keep us stuck in the valley at times

but together we must continue to march out from the shadows

guided by the names the faces the souls

to the city of light and love that we are still creating in each moment

to the place beside the waters that restore our soul

enabling us to rest on the fields of peace

remembering all we have lost

being grateful for all we have gained

keeping the light of memories alive as new ones are created

one moment one soul one light at a time

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