A decade later, where the ground of the World Trade Center in New York has become a battlefield of racist exclusion, monuments filled with hubris (it’s 1776’ high!), opportunities for gentrifying nearby Chinatown, or simply more Class-A office space for the capitalists, this image pictures only the voids that were left. This is a poem I wrote sometime after 9-11:
To begin the world anew,
you begin with what you know:
you begin by picking up the pieces.
Wood. Metal. Stone. Glass.
You begin by picking up the pieces.
The discarded husks of houses,
rusting metal car chassis, what was once a garden
overgrown with ivy, needles and newspapers.
He was there when the planes hit,
looking for his captain, about to go in,
when the shadows lengthened into blackness
and took him out. And picking himself up,
he went back into what was left, and
for months he was there, picking up pieces
of bodies and memories and sorrows and I love yous
whispered into cell phones still lost in the smoke
and so many of those pieces got encrusted in his
skin, like splinters or glass shards, he can
no longer sleep.
And while bombs rain on villages again, and
mines take out the legs of children somewhere else,
and famine sets in our hearts again,
we the living do the only thing we can:
we begin by picking up the pieces.