The Next Day (September 12)


Images from Wikimedia Commons

The next day of life:
Sorrow rising with the sun
A broken heart mourns

Memories of you:
A kiss under candlelight
Our daughter’s first smile

Clothes in the closet
Sleeping in an empty bed:
An intense longing

Faces on billboards
Flags unmoving in the breeze:
Two towers, falling

One among thousands
Lying in a smoky grave:

A river of dreams:
Thoughts of a different life
I shall not forget

Our children playing:
Moments of laughter and joy
Love lasts forever

Rain striking windows
Sunset on the horizon:
Life begins again

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I almost can’t believe it has been seven years since 9/11. It’s gone so quickly; the memories and emotions are still so raw. And yet so much has happened in the seven years. It feels like a different world now; less innocent and sure of itself. That one moment changed so much.

I still remember it so clearly. My parents told me there had been an explosion at the World Trade Center; I came through to watch just as the second plane struck. For hours we just sat there, feeling helpless and numb. My thoughts went to my friends in America and while they were okay, it seemed like everyone knew someone who had been affected by the attacks.

What I remember most about 9/11 is actually the following day, September 12. As it happened during our night there wasn’t much information available until the 12th our time. All during that day, wherever you went, people were stunned. That an attack like 9/11 might happen somewhere had always been a grim possibility but the extent was beyond anyone’s worst fears.

As time passed we heard about the signs people missed but I try not to think about them too much. I don’t think anything could have stopped 9/11; contained the damage, perhaps, but not stopped it. While knowing where the agencies and bureaucracy went wrong is important, it’s easy to focus on that so much that we forget the human impact as well.

Almost 3000 people died on 9/11 but it means so much more than that… the husbands and wives who never went home, the fire fighters and police officers who gave their lives. I can’t imagine what it must be like, to live with the grief the families must still feel… to watch your child grow up without their mother or father. It must be heart-breaking.

I started to write this poem for last year’s anniversary but it was never quite what I wanted it to be. I’m happier with it now; I decided to post it on the 12th instead as it’s about the day after the attacks and learning to live with the grief. I hope it is a respectful tribute to the people who died and their families. May we never forget them.

5 thoughts on “The Next Day (September 12)

  1. You’ve captured the grief, despair, regret and fledgling hope that many have felt, very beautifully. This is such an emotional time. Lots of us remember how we first became aware of the event at this time of year. Even though you were much farther away, I started to watch the television just as the second plane hit, as well.
    May healing and light continue to emerge.

  2. Lovely haiku son, am with Muse …you conveyed so much in that short tribute and haiku. What I remember most, apart from being glad we were together to share in the impact of the horror together, was the connectedness of so many of the families who lost loved ones. And how articulate they were, even in their grief.

  3. Thank you, Muse. It was important to me that the poem had a feeling of hope as well as grief; that’s what I remember most about that time, that despite the loss people came together… that out of something so terrible, hope still survived. As long as we hold them in our hearts, we honour their memory. I hope it is a respectful tribute.

    It’s interesting that’s the first thing we both saw. It all happened so quickly that I can imagine the second plane hitting would have been the first thing many people saw on that day… I hope the families found some peace on the anniversary. May we never forget.

    Thank you, MQ. I wanted it to be simple, visual as I think that’s the only way you can truly capture what happened on 9/11; haiku seemed like the right form for that.

    My memories of that day are still vivid and that’s something I was thankful for as well, that we were together when it happened… the way many of the families have connected is wonderful. A large part of it is that they’re the only ones who can really understand, but it shows how some good can come out of something so terrible… that’s an amazing thing.

  4. Well done.

    I watched a show on PBS last night called Objects and Memory. It talked about finding objects in the post 9/11 cleanup – purses, helmets, wallets, pieces of paper with signatures on it, and how people’s lives were impacted by the return of something their loved one had held. I think what I caught the most out of that was how sudden it was for all of the families. They talked about not being able to really grieve until they saw that last thing – sometimes up to a year later. And they all talked about how life goes on, how memories become a life of their own over the years.

    I think they have to actually. When you lose something so vital and so alive I think there has to be something there that was a part of it that still grows and thrives. The dreams you shared, the jokes you laughed at, the memories that were made – they have to stay alive or eventually it would be like they never existed at all.

    The single most important thing I’ve learned in life is one I think we all learned that day. Live. Live every single moment of every day like you won’t have that opportunity again. Say every kind word that comes to mind. Say I love you every time you leave a loved one. Let the petty disagreements go. Kiss your kids and your spouse. Have courage and faith – and then act with them.

    There is no greater triumph than to overcome evil with good.

  5. Thank you, Jule; I’m glad you liked it. Whenever I think of 9/11 my thoughts go out to the families and the people who survived… I can’t imagine what it must be like to have lived with that loss, those memories for 7 years. That sudden absence, of someone being there one moment and then taken away the next… that’s a pain I can’t begin to understand.

    I remember after the Bali Bombings in 2002 that many of the families wanted to go there, to see the scene and say goodbye… it was their only way of finding closure. I imagine that’s what it’s like with the 9/11 anniversaries as well, that painful as they are, they allow life to go on… forgetting would be a far greater pain.

    I think the main thing I learnt from 9/11 was how fragile life is; I was 16 and in many it was the day I became an adult. Life is such a beautiful, finite thing; to value every moment, to live every day as if it might be our last, is a philosophy I have adopted as well. If more people did as well, perhaps the world would be a very different place.

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