A Poem for 9/11: Against the Evidence…

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

On September 11, 2001 I was far from retirement and very much still teaching in the Lower School. Sometime mid-morning, I had a short break and took a walk to the office where I heard the news that the first tower had fallen. We all know what happened next. We all remember what we were doing that morning.

Life changed then for all of us in this country. I recall the many conversations among teachers and staff about how to explain the horrendous news to the children (ours were grades 1-4), how to answer questions, how to help worried and anxious parents.

I remember the next day when we all gathered around the flag pole and watched as the flag was raised to half-staff, and some thoughful words we spoken and we shared our minute of silence and then sang the National Anthem.

I remember looking at the small children, tears finding their way down my cheeks (and those of all the faculty, it seemed) realizing the world of all these little ones was forever and irrevocably changed.

That night, after dinner, I sat outside in my garden. The weather was fine in the early September evening down in North Carolina. I watched the clouds float by in the sky, and I listened to the birds. I wrote a poem.

It is this poem I offer you today, fourteen years later. The poem is unaltered except for adding three lines to the second to last stanza later. I’m posting this on my blog on 9/11/15. Fourteen years after that horrible day, and our world feels far more out of control, far more filled with hatred and distrust of all who “aren’t like us” both here and abroad. The news has been filled with the tragic pictures of refugees, especially the unforgettable picture of the small toddler whose dead body lay on the sand at the edge of the water. Again we all wonder why it is men and women can’t live in peace.

Here is my poem. It won’t change the world. It won’t do much of anything in fact. Very few will ever read it. Yet, still, I offer it to you and hope that each of us can, in our own way, pray for peace today and every day.
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If you care to listen to me read this poem, please click on the link below and wait a few seconds for the recording to begin.

 


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In Memoriam, September 11, 2001

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Against the evidence I will continue
to hope when there is no reason to hope.
Against the evidence I will continue
to search for life among the piles of rubble.
Against the evidence I will continue
to believe there is goodness in hearts when it seems
all else lies corrupted in darkness.

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For in the hours that held madness,
in the hours of chaos and death,
as the billowing smoke darkened the skies
and the hearts of all people, there came
the night sky with air blowing clean,
revealing the stars that sit in their cold thrones
watching all of this without judgment.

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Against the evidence I will continue
to find beauty in the dusky slate-colored sky.
Against the evidence I will continue
to find reasons to offer hope to a young child who cries.
Against the evidence I will continue
to look past the senselessness and try to find meaning
where there is none right now.

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For in the days ahead there will be scenes
that the heart can simply not fathom,
sounds that ears would rather not hear,
sights that shatter our innocence
and feelings of inviolable space.

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And the stars sitting in their cold thrones
watch down on us and now begin to weep
for the sadness of what man can do to man.
And the stars, as they see us, continue to burn,
their own surfaces fired with blue-flamed explosions,
the heat of their hearts now filled to bursting
as they watch, as they sit, as they shine
from those thrones so distant, so far above

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Against the evidence I will continue
to find brilliance in the soft silvered stars.
Against the evidence I will continue
to look for their fiery tears falling down
on a world filled with terror and pain.
Against the evidence I will continue
to believe that one day it will all end.

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Written on September 12, 2001 by Mary Kendall

Dove photo by Merlune

Dove photo by Merlune

21 thoughts on “A Poem for 9/11: Against the Evidence…

  1. A powerful message of hope and endurance, and also of heartbreak.
    Thank you for this!
    My favorite stanza:
    “For in the hours that held madness,
    in the hours of chaos and death,
    as the billowing smoke darkened the skies
    and the hearts of all people, there came
    the night sky with air blowing clean,
    revealing the stars that sit in their cold thrones
    watching all of this without judgment.”

    So spare, so elegant, and so beautifully expressed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My thanks to you for taking the time to come visit my blog, read this poem and leave such a gracious comment. It is most appreciated. I’m glad you found a favorite stanza. It’s lovely to know that a poem makes a connection with a reader.

      Best wishes ~ Mary

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was cathartic to hear you read this poem, MK. I cannot afford to wear my emotions about the day on my sleeve. It’s all too sad; so consuming. I remember what a pretty Tuesday morning it was– bright, clear, and perfect. It was the kind of day that started out so beautifully that for a moment I felt reprieve from the reality of my first husband lying in his hospice bed, in and out of consciousness, nearing the end. It was so beautiful outside that I begged his doctor to let us wheel him out on a gurney, just so he can feel the cool fall air and the sun on his face–then maybe, just maybe, he’d want to stay on this earth a little longer. They would not allow it. Then, an hour later, we watched TV coverage of the unfolding events. Peter worked at the Financial Center across the street from the towers. His company moved away from One World Trade Center a few years before. This was his city. These were his two city blocks. We fell in love in New York. Fourteen years, and seemingly a whole life time later, I have not forgotten.
    Thank you, Mary, for honoring the fallen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Jean, your words touch my heart in ways I couldn’t never describe. I remember you telling me about those particular last days, but in reading this, I am speechless. Fourteen years is so little time, and yet it is forever. It is two lifetimes for you. My heart goes out to you, my lovely friend, and thank you for taking the time to share your story and your comments. It means the world to me. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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