Sunday, September 11, 2011

It’s Back and I Can’t Stand It

I admit it.  I am a moral coward.  That anniversary has rolled around again.  This time with a zero, one of those nice round numbers that demand attention be paid, lessons learned, conclusions drawn.  As a blogger who often features almanac entries based on historic events of the day, I feel a certain responsibility to tackle the topic.

But I can’t.  I really can’t.  I’ve been dreading this rolling around for days.   Not only for the stark horror that it represents and the nearly physical pain in contemplating it, but because I will be expected to write something—comforting, inspirational, analytic, historical, even a wild emotional rant, but something.   

I’ve tried.  I’ve discarded half a dozen attempts without finishing a paragraph.

It’s always been this way.  Back on the 5 year anniversary, I managed to with a great struggle to come up with this for the blog:

None of us who were alive and conscious at the time will ever be able to let a September 11 pass un-noticed.  The odd fact is that September 11 no longer exists.  It has been replaced by 9/11, an event both terrible and awesome—in the Biblical sense of those words—that it changed us all utterly.  It also united an often fractured nation in grief, fear, and outrage.  Everyone felt it, commented on it.  For a while there were no conservatives and liberals, no atheists and religious, no gays or straights, not even any New Yorkers and heartlanders.

It didn’t last long.  The toxic cloud still hung over the site of the Twin Towers as that unity was being brazenly exploited to set the stage for an endless round of wars designed to create a new American Imperium.  TV preachers and reactionary fundraisers with enormous mailing lists were soon busy blaming the tragedy on moral weakness  laid at the feet of liberals, atheists, Gays, pro-choice women, and advocates of tolerance.  Then came the radio ranters and the rent-me-cheep cable talking heads—all busy taking that brief unity and smashing it to advance their own agendas.

Not very satisfying, but at least something.  I’m tempted to leave it at that and flee.

Today this is all I could come up with:

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The ash and dust, they say,
            rose as high as the skirts
            of the ionosphere.
Prevailing winds pushed it
            across oceans and around the world.

Most has sifted, by now to the earth.
Some orbits still, motes descending
            now and again.

My study is a cluttered mess.
Dust lays on any unattended
horizontal surface,
makes webs in corners,
balls in computer wire
rats nest
and under bookshelves.

That speck, that one there,
            the one by the stapler,
            just might be what’s left
            of the Dominican cleaner
            who left her children
            with their Abuela
            and went to work
            in the sky
            only to be vaporized.

Hola, señora.
It is an honor to meet you.

Patrick Murfin,
September 11, 2011
Crystal Lake, Illinois.

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