In the midst of political chaos ...

... the quiet of September 11th.

As they always are this time and this day of the year, my thoughts are with the victims of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and with their families and friends. I'm participating in Project 2996 again, in which bloggers post tributes to the victims of the attacks. Today, I'm remembering someone I didn't even know had been lost until I was doing research for the memorial I wrote in 2006 to Stanley L. Temple.

After writing that post, I got kind of hooked on reading the tributes at Remember September 11 2001. One day, I noticed the name Brian Magee. One of Third Dad's best friends in college, a groomsman at our wedding, had the last name Magee. It was a long shot that they were related, but I clicked on the guestbook and and then the photo album - indeed, the Brian Magee lost in the World Trade Center was his brother. Third Dad knew Brian from the trips he and his friend had taken to New York while we were in college, and he remembered him as an incredibly good person. Knowing how close the family was, we could only imagine the sorrow they felt then, and were feeling still.

I left a note in the guestbook from all of us, but heard nothing back until about a month ago. Kevin had apparent visited the guestbook, found my note, and reached out. It's good to reconnect after all these years.

So today I remember Brian Magee, and Stanley L. Temple, and of course every one of the thousands who were lost.
The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A fine rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.

When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in green rows in a field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

Billy Collins is poet laureate of the United States. This poem was read before Congress at its joint session in New York City on September 6, 2002.


a Tonggu Momma said…
Margie - Thank you for this. This is the Christine I mentioned by name in my post today. She and my sister were friends when KK was in high school.

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