September 11th

I've been thinking a great deal about this fifth anniversery of September 11th. In many ways not much has changed over these five years, I'm still looking for answers. Here is what I wrote in my journal on that day and the following days as I went about my life and work in New York City. September Journal By Kevin Slick Copyright 2001 9/11/01 I bought a newspaper on the way to work this morning. I thought I would talk with my class, fourth grade at P.S. 116, about the primary election for mayor. After all there would be people in and out of school all day since it was the polling place for the neighborhood around 33rd and 3rd. But we didn’t talk about the election. The voters left early, if they came at all. By three o’ clock in the afternoon I was alone in my room. Sunlight was coming in the window at an autumn afternoon slant Dragging long shadows across the front page of the newspaper, Still lying where I left it on my desk. No one will ever remember the stories from the front page of today’s paper. No one will ever think of this day and talk about the election Or any one of ten other stories that were worthy of the front page of the New York Times on September 11th, 2001. I walked downtown Smoke arched across the sky People’s faces; grim, vacant, worried. We talked to each other like people at a funeral; “How are you doing?” “Are you okay?” The streets, a constant stream of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars. Police on every corner Crowds gathering at the hospital a few blocks away. And the people’s faces, unbelieving I can’t believe it. (how many times have I said “ I can’t believe it” when I could have said “that’s surprising” or “ I didn’t expect that”) Now, I really can’t believe it. Tell me again, They’re gone? Those two buildings are gone? The two buildings I see from my window every day? The two buildings I rode past this morning on the train? Gone? 9/12 Everyone is in motion today. On Fulton street the sun is shining and the streets are full of people. Loud dance music rips out of a store selling stereos. A man is begging on the corner, shaking a cup full of coins endlessly. Now he switches hands and adjusts the volume on his Walkman. He’s looking all around and no one is looking at him. He looks around some more and drives his electric wheelchair away. The other people on the corner just keep talking and ignoring the place where he was. The sky is still so blue today Only that one line of grey Grey smoke to the south that lays across the sky. It looks like rain clouds, Long, low rain clouds But it’s too sunny for rain. There’s a cool breeze Like the best ocean breeze on the last day of summer It’s such a beautiful day Such a beautiful day. Is it nature, or God Trying to say that life goes on? Is this a day to help us heal? Is this a day that covers the terrible with beauty? This beautiful sky lies across our lives We are held together under this sky Held together by each other By our heartbeats Our footsteps Beating out a rhythm together. I heard a woman say That the most important thing in the world Was the smell of her daughter’s hair when she hugged her. 9/18 I can see the sun as a fuzzy white ball in the grey, cloudy sky. In Union Square there are huge crowds Gathering around signs, candles and pictures Offerings, gifts people have left. Behind me, a group is singing “America The Beautiful” some of the crowd, however are only singing the first line of the melody, having forgotten the rest I guess. The result is an edgy harmony as one group repeats the same line over and over. People have written poems And the word “Love” appears over and over again. Maybe we’re all here just to be next to other humans Every sound is muffled, like a church This seems like a sacred site. The stained glass windows have been replaced with Flowers Paintings Pictures All those pictures Thousands of pictures. This whole city has become a photo album A large family photo album. Walking down the streets, I feel like I’m leafing through memories Memories shared with strangers. Weddings, Back yard picnics Vacations. I’m looking for my family here Looking for faces I recognize And I realize I know every one of them. 9/19 I can’t sing I want to sing, but I can’t find a song to sing Not one song Not one song I can sing But all songs I have no song to sing Unless it’s all songs I try to speak but I have no voice Only all voices I’m calling on God But I think God will only answer To all his names To all her names Spoken as one. One sky One blue, heavenly sky Covers us like a prayer shawl. I want to wrap myself in the sky. I wrap myself in these pictures These words The quilt of life Of lives sewn together on the streets by broken hearts seeking peace. I stand with others, with everyone In search of release. My feelings pour out on the names On the faces And I think all my feelings have gone out of me But new feelings appear Like waves on the ocean, endless The best I can do is open my heart to the emotions The way a rose opens it’s petals to drink the dew And I release those feelings Like the rose gives up it’s petals.

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