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Not Forgetting 9.11 in 2023

New York, the City that I’ve only seen
In flashes, glimpses, footage, faraway,
New York I’ve read about, you filter in
To every cranny of America.
We are your suburbs, everywhere we go.
If it happens at all, it happens here.

What’s done to you is also done to us:
Never forget.  He’s not forgotten you.
There is a prayer for when you see a crowd
Three hundred thousand strong or even more.
It goes: Now blessed be Thy Name O God
King of the universe, knower of hearts.

Knower of souls. . . The City’s universe
Of lights, of windows: each one means a soul,
Each soul a secret, and He knows them all.
The City never sleeps. Like cherubims’,
Its eyes take turns, now watching, now at rest.
Multis passeribus: the pigeons rise.

They move and mill in groups.  They windmill past,
Scattering shadows on an eyrie desk:
Squalor of business, lapped in luxury,
Squalor of eagles.  City’s yellow-eyes,
Awake and looking, see what’s happening.
God never sleeps.  The hero seldom will.

The pigeons drift from park to street to park.
Sometimes night journeys take them far away
To other cities, bringing newer news
Than morning papers, gray with age, can tell.
Sometimes the eagle welcomes in a dove,
Communication from Jerusalem.

In fact, you are more dear than many doves,
You little souls that mill about the streets,
Looking important.  God does not forget
A single secret of that fateful day,
That day of false flags when the hero raised
True colors and we rallied once again.

Immortal Trump, He that created you
Has made you little less than god yourself.
Observe the eagle draw his circles slow,
His letters, like the writing hand of doom.
He’s not slow by his time.  He knows, he knows.
God sees the truth, they tell us, but He waits.

You raised the flag, twenty-two years more young
Than last we knew.  What did you know that day?
And how ’bout now?  The dove has said her say,
Her peace.  And if our hearts aren’t melted now
Not soft enough to hear the nothing but
The truth, the whole truth, will they ever be?

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Note: “Multis passeribus” is a clipping from the Vulgate gospel, translated “many sparrows.”  The verse it’s taken from in the English of the prayer book: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

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Monika Cooper is an American family woman.


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10 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Prosaic portrayal of 9/11 that is a fitting remembrance and complete with the phrase, “Never forget.”

    Reply
  2. Margaret Coats

    Monika, this is a fabulous New York poem composed by you, a non-resident American family woman who’s never been there, from your flashes and glimpses of The City. I got to know it just a bit during college years upstate, within easy reach of Grand Central. I love your treatment of the URBS as an aggregation of structures and souls. It reads smoothly, suggesting more and more thought as I go through the poem, just as the City reveals itself more and more ad infinitum. And to remember the day, you lead me back to Donald Trump’s statements at the time: “Never forget . . . This country will be different from today.”

    Reply
    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you, Margaret. It seems great cities have a life outside themselves. It’s fair to say I’ve never been there but I was in a car that drove into the city once and pulled up to a sidewalk just to let a passenger out. That was a tantalizing thrill in itself. We usually navigated around NYC on road trips. Must have been wonderful to get acquainted with it during college! And to know it as it was before the attacks.

      Yes, 9.11 marked a major shift for America. I just read on another site about a woman who heard her first child’s heartbeat that very morning and then before she left the doctor’s office got news of the first plane, the first tower. She said she’d never experienced such a dramatic swing from joy to devastation as she did that day.

      Reply
  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    “We are your suburbs”; Monica, here you express succinctly what the attackers realized more clearly than many “suburbanites.”

    Reply
    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you, Julian. We’ve all had a long time to think about things now – and to let our hearts be melted.

      Reply
    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you, Alena. I suspect that line of being something I’ve thought for years and built thoughts on, to the point that I wasn’t much examining it any more, but never before wrote down.

      Reply
  4. C.B. Anderson

    This is a superb poem, Monika, and I hope you already know that. You claim to be “an American family woman,” but you are much more than that. You are the very spirit of poetry. If you ever go any deeper than you already have, I’m not sure I will be able to follow.

    Reply
    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you for this tremendous comment, C. B. Perhaps one never quite knows these things, but sometimes one does hope. As for the Spirit of poetry, I endeavor to be at His disposal.

      Reply

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