Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memoriam

We all remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when an airplane flew into the north tower. I was at home, getting ready to go to work, just another ordinary day. Watching the events unfold on television was horrifying, but because I was so far away, it was impossible not to view them with a certain level of detachment. Thomas Flynn, a journalist living in New York, was there, and Bikeman is his account of that morning.

Bikeman is an extended, free-form poem, something not often published in today's literature world. I'm not a poetry critic - I'll freely admit that poetry is difficult for me. I often feel like I don't "get it" - whatever the "it" is that the author is trying to convey. I didn't have that lost feeling when I was reading Bikeman. It is beautifully, personally written, and I no longer feel detached from the events of September 11. I feel like I could have been there. Flynn doesn't dwell on the minute details, but instead explores the immediate, visceral emotions of witnessing this most heartbreaking day. I literally could not put this short book down until I was finished, and I know it is not one I will soon forget.

In Flynn's own words, he watches the first tower fall:

"The monster wall, airier than air itself, dances in broken parts,
waiting a moment. Then, amid the screaming
of those around me who realize
the tower is collapsing, I watch the chunks
gather up and begin to drop toward us."

Walking through the ashes:

"We move from the place of the dead
In a dense cloud of sighs.
The fallen tower carries
flame-consumed human remains.
They are the ashes of ashes to ashes."

Returning home:

"Amid a chorus of wailing eulogy,
the survivors move away.
I move with the living
yet I carry the dead,
carry them on a funeral march
beyond this September morning,
this forever September morning."

I encourage you to find a copy of this small book, and take time to remember.

Finished: 9/11/08
Source: my shelves
Rating: 9/10


Ruth said...

This book was an experience. Truly remarkable and incredibly poignant. I reviewed it for Early Reviewers over the summer, but I found myself re-visiting it today.

Andi said...

Wow, this book sounds just breathtaking. Thanks for the great review.

sheistoofondofbooks said...

This appeals to me because as you say, you don't have to "get" poetry to "get" *Bikeman*