Tuesday, September 7, 2010

from Poetic Asides prompt "setting the world on fire" part two

Mama – You Didn’t Write About That Day?

When she learned about this prompt
My girl was puzzled to read my poem
Stunned actually that I had a chance
To write about fire and not used it
To hold forth about that horrible time

Her generation’s “where were you when?”
As she put it—the way mine has
The Kennedy, Luther-King assassinations—
I had hoped my children would
Not have such a traumatic marker
But you can’t always have what you wish

I tried to tell her that I find it too hard
Sometimes to write about 9/11
That I don’t feel it’s my place or our tragedy
Being north of the 49th parallel and all
She chides me gently – reminds me
How it was not only an American loss
How the world wept that day also

Reminds me how our close Islamic friends
Watched the news on TV with us, becoming
More terrified and ashamed as the day
Wore on – how they would not be
Comforted or reassured that it was not
About them and we knew that from the start

Behija would not answer to her Bosnian name
By the end of that Tuesday, insisted instead
From then on that we call her “Becky” ...
In an instance she renounced her identity
And we watched Bin Laden begin winning
On another front without lifting a finger

Our moderate Muslim refugee-friend
An escapee of the former Yugoslavia,
Was suddenly losing herself totally,
Terrified in my country; she who
Had courageously fled with her son
Through the woods, in the dark
In her country, fearlessly...

My daughter reminds me how we
Took Behija with us to my church
That night just to be with people
And light candles and weep

How kind everyone was;
How many different faiths
Were gathered there – it is that kind
Of church—it strikes me then
And I remind her —she sang acapella

She didn’t need me to help her recall
She says she sings them both still,
Every September 11th, wherever she is
“Pie Jesu” - and “Agnes Dei” and
Sometimes now the “Kyrie” also

I remember her voice, and the
Comments – “... as if an angel
Had come to earth for a bit ...”
She asks me again, please think
About writing about that day
I tell her I will – think about it.


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