Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Will's Poem

I have trouble understanding and feeling moved by poetry. But I read a poem yesterday that I found very moving, beautiful, and hopeful at a time when so many of us were thinking sad, angry, hateful, and other dark thoughts about a past filled with death and destruction and about a future fraught with unimaginable peril. The poem comes from a guy named Will and can be found in the comments section of yesterday's post by Gagdad Bob over at One Cosmos. Here is the poem:

On occasion I find myself considering an image,
Perhaps not the one you might expect,
Not the plane nightmare frozen before impact,
Not the gout of fire,
Not the empty eye socket gash in the building,
Not any of those images but
Who really forgets?

Hmm? Oh, yes:
It's this image of two people
Standing on a ledge, probably
Between floors 80 to 90.
Very tiny in the picture, of course,
Dwarfed by immensities around them,
But if you look closely,
You can make out several things -
First, they are a man and a woman,
Second, they are holding hands,
Third, they are in the process
Of jumping -
They look for all the world
Like a couple jumping into
The shallow end of a pool
Or maybe over a rain puddle,
You know, with a dainty poise -

Now, here's what I have to consider:
We all know that animals, when
Confronted with fire, succumb to
Blind scrabbling panic -
Firemen tell of how when crawling
Down a smoke-drenched hallway
in a burning tenement building,
They have to be mindful of
Fleeing rats and cockroaches
That run right over them
In panicked hordes -
This couple on the ledge, however -
Well, did they even know each other?
Maybe not, and yet here they have
Agreed to a simple comforting of
One another by holding hands,
And clearly agreed to jump together,
a calm, agreed-upon decision -
God, would You explain this equation
To me?

I like to think that they were meeting
For the first time, having circled one
Another for their lifetimes, and then,
On that morning, recognized each other!
It's you! It's you!
Destined at last to hold hands!
Oh, but more, of course -

Long ago, at a Wisconsin resort,
I turned from the pier
And saw on the green slope
Behind me two girls, sisters, no doubt,
One perhaps five, the other eight,
Holding hands, and I had never seen
Anything so vulnerable as them,
Almost lost in the tangled thicket
As they stared at the lake,
Holding hands to comfort one another -
Which, I might add, is an image that
Has always come to me whenever
I feel hopeless about the world
And it saves me -
In the fullness of time
I will find you, girls,
and thank you -

And thank you, couple on the ledge -
What you did was not an act
Of defiance,
But it did defy the evil,
All of it, just that simple hand-holding,
The power of which
Held chaos in check,
Oh good for you,
Good for you,
Bravo! -

Yesterday, a mother showed me
Her infant baby girl in a crib,
And the baby stuck her arm up
And I held her tiny hand between my
Thumb and forefinger,
And a circle of Light encompassed us both
And we smiled at each other
On the ledge
Before we jumped -


Van said...

I saw you put your head back into the Cosmos - if you've a mind to examine some justifications for my end of the exchange we began in One Cosmos, I've got posts in 7 parts up on my site(2 to go).

Of course if you're not, no hard feelings.

Nagarjuna said...

Van, I've skimmed some of your posts already. I've even thought about reading them more thoroughly and replying to some of them, especially your post that seems to suggest that there should be no public education, only the private variety. But your posts go in philosophical directions that, while interesting, are not necessarily where I want or have the time to go at present. Nevertheless, thank you for the invitation.

Will said...

Nag -

Thank you for the compliments re my 9/11 poem.

Nagarjuna said...

You're welcome, Will.

You and I may not see eye to eye on a lot of things. But your poem (and what I've gained from reading it) transcends our differences and touches what I would like to think is the deep and wonderful essence of what you and I and all humanity share in common.

And that is one reason why, despite all the reasons I might have for staying away, I keep coming back to One Cosmos.

Van said...

Not a problem, Good luck Nagarjuna.