Black shark glides through blue heavens. Torpedo in the sky pierces. The tower explodes billows of orange. Four deadly missiles launched that clear Tuesday morning in September. Four generous and trusting planes, pregnant with fire-eager fuel. Four passenger lists – mostly ordinary people and 18 ruthless, cold fanatics. Four hits: 8:48 - World Trade Center, New York, North Tower. 9:03 - World Trade Center, New York, South Tower. 9:45 - Pentagon complex, Washington D.C 10:10 - A field in Pennsylvania. Halt commerce. Suspend trading. Re-route all flights. Close New York bridges and subways. CNN leaps into action, everywhere a buzz. Terrorists have struck. Hell in the sky and now on earth. America Under Attack! Babel towers collapse, disappear in a cloud of smoke, ash, dust. Men in suits, women in business dress Flee! Run for your lives (this is no special effects movie). Escape the billowing destruction. Gray-crusted rescuers walk in ashen moonscape under a charcoal sky, mouths and noses covered with rags. Eyewitnesses describe screams, terror, papers flying, people leaping from the inferno. A nurse’s voice breaks – so many shattered bodies, some without skin, limbs blown off. Stunned Manhattans, two-to-three wide walk slowly, grimly down the street in the sunny afternoon, past our screen. Experts grope for understanding: “...this is low tech, high concept...” “...at a time like this, people look for direction...” “...ending your own life is not what someone does...” And under the images, an incessant scrolling marquee of up-to-the-minute: ...THERE IS AN URGENT PLEA FOR BLOOD. DISNEYLAND - CALIFORNIA AND DISNEYWORLD - FLORIDA ARE CLOSED. ALL MAJOR LEAGUE GAMES ARE CANCELLED. ALL NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS TO GO ON HIGHEST ALERT. THERE IS AN URGENT PLEA FOR BLOOD... It is Wednesday morning. Sunny heavens are empty and silent. Slowly we surface – dazed, blinking – to a landscape that has shifted. Yesterday there was an earthquake in the sky. Today we live in a different world.
The news and images of 9/11 ricocheted around the world in September 2001. Here the southwest corner of Canada, we felt the shock along with everyone else. This is something I wrote a few days after the event. It’s not great poetry, I know, only one person’s way of processing those awful events.