Originally published in Indelible: Art, Poems, and Prose in Response to the September 11th Crisis. I worked at Houghton Mifflin at the time, in elementary and middle school textbooks, which was partly what framed this poem. (And again, I'm not really a poet. But these events inspire—require, even—some response, some letting of blood to relieve the pressure.)
Through the umbra of Erebus
we pass—surely it can get no darker
than these moments, broken, rent,
left strewn across history,
waiting to be folded and gathered into text,
another chapter of the world.
"Do you remember?" the children will ask.
"Were you there?" "What was it like?"
And we will give all the expected answers:
"Terrible" "Horrible" "Awful" "Tragic"
and any other such synonyms we can devise
because words have always failed feeling
and none of us can or want to
feel this way again.