It was around 6:30 a.m. Pacific Coast time, I believe, when I found out what had happened. I turned on the black-and-white television my landlady had loaned me and watched the horror be replayed over and over again throughout the morning. I do not remember everything I was thinking at the time. I do remember feeling that a great fear had been realized. “It has finally happened.” Something had changed irrevocably, and Americans would never see themselves the same way again.
I wrote this poem several weeks after the World Trade Center bombing. I post it here in memory of the people who jumped out of the towers on this day 19 years ago in a desperate attempt to save their own lives.
by Stacy Torian
i could have scorched inside the steel-striped pit.
turning my back to the firecloud vomit
black-pronged and spiraling against the city wind.
now you wail at my death,
pitch curses at my killers,
and lay plans for the second inferno.
but men were not
born to die
they were born
humble and passionate
like the snowflakes
trading fire for
and a chance
to clutch hands
with the wind.
This poem was originally published in the San Diego Writer’s Monthly in 2002. It was later published in my poetry book Chisel .