"Tribute in Light" Memorial
As Seen from Liberty State Park, New Jersey
September 11, 2006
Stock Photo, United States Department of Defense
In 2006, Galway Kinnell published a beautiful collection of poetry, Strong Is Your Hold. The volume includes the deeply moving poem "When the Towers Fell", which recalls with stunning clarity what we watched and do not forget.
It is fitting today, on this ninth anniversary that cannot be forgotten, to set aside regular posts and offer a bit from Kinnell's poem (it is too long to quote in full), and in the reading to remember. . . and then again to remember.
When the Towers Fell
by Galway Kinnell
From our high window we saw them
in their bands and blocks of light
brightening against a fading sunset,
saw them in the dark hours glittering
as if spirits inside them sat up
calculating profit and loss all night, saw
their tops steeped in the first yellow
of sunrise, grew so used to them
often we didn't see them, and now,
not seeing them, we see them.
. . .
The plane screamed low,. . .
. . . and vanished, leaving behind
a hole the size and shape a cartoon plane might make
passing through and flying away, on the far side,
back into the real of the imaginary.
. . .
All day the towers burn and fall, and burn and fall. . . .
. . .
I thought again of those on the high floors
who knew they would burn alive and then, burned alive.
As if there were mechanisms of death
so mutilating to existence that no one
gets over them, ever, not even the dead.
. . .
In our minds the glassy blocks succumb over and over,
slamming down floor by floor into themselves,
blowing up as if in reverse, exploding
downward and rolling outward,
the way, in the days of the gods, a god
might rage through the streets, overtaking the fleeing.
As each tower goes down, it concentrates
into itself, transforms itself
infinitely slowly into a black hole
infinitesimally small: mass
without space, where each light,
each life, put out, lies down within us.
© 2006 Galway Kinnell
The entire poem may be read at The New Yorker, where it was originally published on September 16, 2002.
The Pentagon Memorial, Dedicated September 11, 2008
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brien Aho
The Pentagon Memorial honors 184 people, both those on American Airlines flight 77 and those inside the Pentagon.