This poem is primarily composed in what is called, ‘abecedarian’ form, where each line starts with the same letter, each stanza in this poem as well. These stanzas are from the New York Times collected obituaries, called “Portraits of Grief”. I found a page with the name Madden, with three others and broke down the poems by letter. Then put them back together for a composite of all those who died in the Twin Towers.
The italics are quotes from Anna Akhmatova, George Safaris, Constantine Cavafy, in that order.
The last quote in italics is from a mother who lost her son, a firefighter, in the South Tower.
The three “Witness” prose poems are from an email I was forwarded. I do not have the original writer’s name and would give her credit. Will give her credit if I can find her name. I do know it was a young woman.
The other poems are mine. I wrote “The Next Day, Boston” while driving to work on September 12th. I have that same feeling right now. For in Austin, where fires have devastated my friend’s homes and destroyed livestock, my days are touched by enormous loss and yet, me personally, am untouched directly. There is an empathetic struggle within between the sadness and anxiety with gratitude. “Next Day” is a catalog of gratitude as I drove to work that day.
I lived in New York in 1978 to 1980. I watched the ball drop at Times square. I ate at Zabar’s and Balducci’s (now closed). I lived in an illegal sublet on Jane Street and West Fourth and from my bedroom windows I had clear view of the Twin Towers.
When my son was old enough, I got to take him to Windows on the World and the winds were calm enough that the public, a few at a time, was allowed to go out on the roof deck and see everything. He was eight and outside on that windy place, it was like seeing New York,new. Like seeing the world as a child with wonder and awe.
Friends of friends died that day. Two friends called in sick for no reason. Here a friend’s home was scorched but not burned. Another took in horses, drove her trailer toward the fire to save them. My husband and called friends who lived in the country to see if they needed a place to come to. We offered shelter. On September 12, I called or emailed friends in far away states to see if their children, college age, young adults were safe.
This is a sequence poem with photos, it is a quilt of images stretching back and forward in time. Thank you for reading.