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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some of the most heartfelt poems of the new century

Are those that deal with the grief after 9/11. I've read a lot of tribute poetry, commemorating the day.

I like the poems that are subtle...the ones that talk about how you feel in the aftermath, how the world has changed. Here's one of my favorites:


I have no politics to speak of,

but last week I bought a paperback version

of American History for Beginners.

At breakfast, I turned to the plume

of Hiroshima while munching

on the dark side of toast.

I was reminded of the beauty

of gesture--the “duck and cover” we learned

in grade school and how we crouched

under our desks from the Cold War.

I never talk to strangers.

But on Cobb Lane,

I smiled at a woman walking a collie

and wanted to hug her dog.

I’m not religious,

but for the first time in years,

I go to church, chant the Nicene Creed, hunger

for something clean--wings, say.

Usually I wake at 6, brew coffee,

pack my knapsack, pull the door to,

and walk six-tenths of a mile to the train.

Today I slept late, dreaming

of flying in a small plane in a wobbly sky.

At the station, passengers loaded with hearts

come aboard, checking their watches.

Normally I don’t describe them.

Today I can’t help noticing the upright

bodies, the feet angled in as if to stay,

the tickettaker who hitches up his pants

and waits. Usually I look out the window,

or read the Times. Today I notice how

a little boy’s hair shines in the sun

and have the urge to feel his warmth

through my palm. I wonder about the synapses

that fire beneath the scalpor our forward facing feet

when all we want is to go back.

Normally, I write about what I feel.

Now my biggest fear is failed

poems--the kind that take you

just short of understanding

and leave you there--your

hope thin, combustible

as the white flesh of cigarettes.

~Elizabeth Harrington


Pam said...

Wow! There was a lump in my throat before I was half-way thorugh the poem.

It was wonderful!

Kelly said...

This is really good. Had to go back and read it several times again....

Marion said...

This is an amazing poem. I loved the line:

"I go to church, chant the Nicene Creed, hunger for something clean--wings, say."

Thank you for sharing it!!! Hugs from cloudy Louisiana today....