Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering 9/11

in honor of the lives saved and lost, of those who gave of themselves tirelessly, of the heartache and courage we endure,
here's a poem by deborah garrison that first appeared in _the new yorker_, 22 oct., 2001:

I Saw You Walking

I saw you walking through Newark Penn Station
in your shoes of white ash. At the corner
of my nervous glance your dazed passage
first forced me away, tracing the crescent
berth you'd give a drunk, a lurcher, nuzzling
all corners with ill will and his stench, but
not this one, not today; one shirt arm's sheared
clean from the shoulder, the whole bare limb
wet with muscle and shining dimly pink,
the other full-sheathed in cotton, Brooks Bros.
type, the cuff yet buttoned at the wrist, a
parody of careful dress, preparedness --
so you had not rolled up your sleeves yet this
morning when your suit jacket (here are
the pants, dark gray, with subtle stripe, as worn
by men like you on ordinary days)
and briefcase (you've none, reverse commuter
come from the pit with nothing to carry
but your life) were torn from you, as your life
was not. Your face itself seemed to be walking,
leading your body north, though the age
of the face, blank and ashen, passing forth
and away from me, was unclear, the sandy
crown of hair powdered white like your feet, but
underneath not yet gray -- forty-seven?
forty-eight? The age of someone's father --
and I trembled for your luck, for your broad,
dusted back, half shirted, walking away;
I should have dropped to my knees to thank God
you were alive, o my God, in whom I don't believe.

--Deborah Garrison.  The New Yorker, 22 October 2001.  Reprinted in 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11,edited by Ulrich Baer. New York University Press. 2002.


Pris said...

A magnificently moving poem!

Michael Parker said...

Chella, this is an exceptional poem. Great commemorative post!

Rebekah said...


I've not read this poem before.

I'm having a hard time swallowing right now.

Yet again I thank you for posting another's poetry.

Ann said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I read this poem every year on 9.11 to remind me of the emotions and visuals that naturally fade some with time. Beautiful Poem.