Saturday, September 07, 2013
I made my way to The Village for a poetry reading, and should have been better prepared for how dismal an event it was.
Not the poetry, but the rehashing after 12 years of those sad moments during which terrorists hit at the heart of
Booked as a remembrance, the reading wasn’t open for other poets and so I did not get to read.
It was just as well since most of what got presented was either not relevant – people posing pieces of work as influenced by the attacks, or tales of horror that we have already heard too much of and which did not provide any new insights, no healing or solution, nothing but old photographs of a moment frozen in time that we did not have to live through again.
One or two poets managed to shape something new out of the material, but most just went back to those images stuck in their minds all these years later, and it was painful to endure again – like hitting yourself with your own shoe, knowing in advance that it will hurt, but you do it anyway.
This is not to say the poem I wrote for the event and which I did not get to read was any better, or worse, or any less painful, or infuriating, but reading your own work tends to heal you when not others.
Yet the NYC that greeted us when we came out of that basement reading space was the same NYC saw before we went it, if only a little bit thicker with people who did not have this 12 year old cloud hanging over them, and who could still laugh as they walked through the streets, dressed in nines for some night out on the town that would be infinitely cheerier than the baggage that people carried out of that poetry reading.
These rituals aren’t supposed to dredge up the old pain, but sometimes, we get connected to a piece of history and we just can’t let go of it, and know that something special – even in horror – has a occurred and we have born witness to it, and we cling to that moment in an effort to retain our place in an important moment, when all we really should be doing it letting go of the pain, and those particular images, and some how find new images with which to replace them, a foundation for a more positive world that will fit the huge foot print the bringing down of the towers left.
And after a little reflection, I came to realize that my poem was not positive, not hopeful, but not a recollection either, but a dismal glimpse of what the new world had become filled with NSA spies and killer drones, filled with a change in politics as ripe as the one Reagan brought, but more odious because those we trust most to look out for our interest disguise their agendas in protecting us. So our new Orwellian world is one in which we must always look over our shoulders and wait for the worst to happen, rather than looking ahead to see a better, brighter future ahead.
At least, for many of the survivors of 9/11, this is the legacy the terrorists left, much more enduring than any vision of the falling towers, because we can’t reconstruct a new tower to fill that gap, we just have to live with it.