Aftermath: 9/11


Finally the search is declared closed.
The brilliant lights yellow and expire,

the mechanical diggers fall quiet,
folding awkwardly upon themselves,

touching their knuckles gently to the rubble –
old beasts preparing for the winter sleep.

Beneath the crossed girders is held the Mass
for those who have never been found:

the missing, the not-known, the gone-away,
and the next day the seeds and the pollen

that blow through the city fall undisturbed,
a slow veiling of this jumbled grave.

What’s left is what’s not there: two phantom limbs,
untouchable, aching, the body unassuaged.

The voice said cry.  And the city answered
what shall we cry?  And the voice answered

all flesh is grass and all its beauty
no more than the flowers of the field.



Yet look at the meadow after the scythe
has swept across it, see the mountainside

after the beautiful catastrophe of fire; see
the desert levelled by the sun’s blank stare.

Here is the aftermath: how days later,
sparse, a few fine shoots of grass

shining and green, push through
the cut swathes bleached dry by the sun.

Though tender, they push aside the chaff,
the flattened stalks, reach for the day.

This is the after-mowing, indestructible.
The mountain scrub springs back, seeds burst,

the nodes of grass divide, renew themselves.
Their beauty is that of the generations.

My young replace me: they resemble
me and will also be different,

seeding themselves across the world.
Like grass, they carpet the earth:

here’s ryegrass, fescue, sea oats, rush,
bentgrass, yarrow, foxtail, sedge.

Beatrice Garland

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