Twenty Years

I

 

A few weeks after the attacks

I realized that there would be anniversaries.

Moments in years to come when people would stop

and try to remember the event;

and try and remember the nature of the world before

the explosive propulsion of our wrath

halted the inertia of peace.

 

II

 

I can still feel the morning of September 10, 2001

still feel the desire to see the future

I eagerly read in Arthur C. Clarke’s visions.

We were building an international space station

we had closed down military bases

we had begun to dismantle nuclear weapons

we had one last gasp, one day

before the dungeon masters came and set up torture chambers

and inaugurated new ways to kill our invisible enemies.

 

III

 

In middle school, I had read a book that outlined the

“generations to come.” How each one would have a name and a

set of underlying archetypes

somehow it predicted that my generation would be one of Heroes.

The authors predicted a Pearl Harbor of the 21st century, and they were right.

But they assumed that MY generation would add, not subtract

to the foundation of America.

The foundation has failed spectacularly and the walls are caving in.

We are witnesses to horror and greed.

 

IV

 

Right after 9/11 our fears and hatreds were cooked into stew

a bubbling and disgusting thing.

We all had to eat it.

They covered statues of Justice with sackcloth

and accused the Taliban of hating women.

They proclaimed peace by building the Mother of All Bombs

to kill their mothers.

I came of age to see the collapse of the Empire. I got to see

the Visigoths loot Rome. I shelter now in the arms of the Lord.

 

V

 

Telepresence brought the burning towers into my living room.

On old CRT TVs in my senior year classrooms.

I still tear up thinking about the jumpers who leapt from

broken windows a thousand feet in the air.

I used to think that they must have been desperate to escape

flame and smoke

but now I know that they had decided to fly

in the clear air

so they could feel wind on their faces

to close their eyes and experience a few seconds of freedom

before the blackness.

 

VI

 

I could make a massive corkboard covered in colored string

that connected dots from each event to the next

how one huge thing proceeded to cascade into a thousand

equally awful smaller things.

I could write a million words about the nature of evil

and the peculiar American notion of it not applying to us.

I can fall to my knees and beg God not to judge a nation

for its crimes as though the Old Testament still held sway:

 

VII

 

“Dear Lord save us from ourselves.

Hear me Lord as we cry out in the wilderness

For we know that we are utterly lost

but pray that we are found

And held tight to your bleeding heart.

Forgive us our sins and remake the world

Not in our image, but in yours.

Amen.”

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