Tuesday, September 15, 2015

#NeverForget: My 9/11 Poem

A few days late, I know, but I feel like sharing. On 9/11/01 I was 8 months pregnant and teaching a 9am English Composition class at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before class, my students and I could see the towers from a hallway window--black smoke coming from one of them. We'd heard a plane had crashed into it--pictured a small plane, an accident. Numbly, I gathered the students in for class. On our break an hour later, one young man went outside and ran back in: "They're GONE!" The classroom next door had the TV tuned to CNN with the diptych of the WTC site and the Pentagon. We were told to go to the main lobby of campus. First, I went to my office, called my husband, sent emails to my family.

I've written more about that morning here. What I think about now is my students, all of them freshmen, most of them new to FIT and NYC. I think of the young man whose cousin "went missing in the towers," according to an email. He disappeared and dropped out of class. A couple others, from my honors writing class, left FIT and went home at their parents' insistence. The city seemed suddenly too dangerous for them.

A few years later, I drafted this poem based on a prompt given by George Bilgere at the Antioch Writers' Workshop. I worked on it from time to time, and recently it was selected by Kathleen Ossip  for the "Child" issue of WSQ.  Never forget.