Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ten Years Later

On September 11, 2011, I woke up in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was visiting friends on my way back from a visit to Chicago. You couldn't escape the day, the anniversary, if for no other reason the media had turned over an entire week to commemoration, follow-up, analysis, revisiting, and basically any story they could come up with related to 9/11.

After Mass at Holy Wisdom Monastery, just three miles from where my friends lived, I headed home to central Minnesota. At noon, I turned off the radio and observed a couple minutes of silence, the landscape rushing by, my mind of course still fully engaged with driving. I couldn't stop-- and this feeling of hurrying forward seemed to me somehow related to the country's response to 9/11. Ten years of hurrying forward.

When I got home, I jotted down a draft of this poem, which I've returned to a few times since. I have a sense that it is already not timely, that events keep moving forward almost too quickly, without enough reflection or, more importantly, connectivity between them. I think that's what I like about the poem-- that it captures the sense of rushing on, and in this particular historical moment ten years later, of our fragmentation as Americans, our inability to come together and make sense of our country and our world situation.

Ten Years Later

by Susan Sink

I’m driving through Wisconsin
as fast as I can, watching for troopers,
annoyed by those too close behind, those
too close in front, when I shoot
under an overpass and standing there
is a woman with a blond pony tail
holding a large American flag,
alone, her head down, looking at nothing.

In Minnesota, passing under another bridge,
a more exuberant group—adult chaperones
and ten or twelve children with flags waving,
children who weren’t even born then—
make this a day of victory more than mourning.

In the rush of traffic, I think about the quiet skies
in the days after that day, the two wars,
the children growing up in a curious wartime,
the young widows, alone, with flags,
and like the many stranded years ago,
I want only to get home.

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