Today is the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rather than add my own words to a subject that is nearly beyond words, I share below a winning poem from the Winning Writers War Poetry Contest that I judge every year.
by Atar Hadari
This is the season people die here,
she said, Death comes for them now.
Sometime between the end of winter
and the rains, the rains of summer.
And the funerals followed that summer
like social engagements, a ball, then another ball
one by one, like debutantes
uncles and cousins were presented to the great hall
and bowed and went up to tender
their family credentials to the monarch
who smiled and opened the great doors
and threw their engraved invitations onto the ice
and dancing they threw their grey cufflinks
across each others’ shoulders, they crossed the floor
and circles on circles of Horas
filled the sky silently with clouds, that chilled the flowers.
And funeral trains got much shorter
and people chose to which they went
and into the earth the flowers
went and no one remembered their names
only that they died that summer
when rains came late and the streets emptied
and flags flying on car roof tops
waved like women welcoming the army
into a small, abandoned city.
This poem won an Honorable Mention in our 2003 contest. I also invite you to read these poems that won awards in past years:
Melody Davis, The View from the Tower (2005 HM)
Stacey Fruits, The Choreography of Four Hands Descending (2003 HM)
Raphael Dagold, In Manhattan, After (2002 HM)