Thursday, August 25, 2011

Barbara Crooker's "Rewind"

I'm about to complete my syllabus for the course, "After 9/11," and this poem came across my digital desk from Split This Rock, a wish-poem for the life previous to 9/11. I'm intrigued to hear how students who were less than 10 years old experienced September 11, 2001...Stay tuned for more details...


Oh, how we'd like to put this video in slow rewind,
go back to September 10th, refurl the chrysanthemum
of ash to a bud, pull the towers back up
from their soft collapse, harden their sides,
slap cement on with our bare hands, smooth it flat
with a trowel, return the sky to its flawless blue,
no plume of black smoke, just windows glittering
in the September sun, office workers breaking
for coffee and bagels, the world's commerce
humming on. Let the planes remain in their hangars.
Let the men who plan harm get caught in traffic,
misplace their tickets, miss their connections.
Let us all sleep again at night.

-Barbara Crooker

Used by permission.

Barbara Crooker's books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (Penguin, 2006) and Good Poems, American Places (Viking, 2011) -- both edited by Garrison Keillor -- and the Bedford Introduction to Literature.

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Maureen said...

I've read this poem several times since it arrived in my e-mail from Split This Rock. It's an accomplished poem that conveys so much!

In addition to some beautiful lines ("refurl the chrysanthemum of ash to a bud") and the poem's vivid imagery ("pull the towers back up from their soft collapse" and "return the sky to its flawless blue"), I'm struck by the sense of nostalgia, this wanting to return to the before. We've heard exhaustively about how everything changed after 9/11 but the truth of the world even then gives lies to what was and how we are now. We missed a lot in the before and the opportunity that came out this horrific, unforgettable event has been lost.

Philip Metres said...

Well put, Maureen. Similarly, I've been thinking that the nostalgia for some "lost innocence" is both understandable and dangerous, for all the ways that it never quite existed. Or if it did, it was some realm of what Marx would call "false consciousness." How the attacks, to anyone who knew what was going in the Middle East, seemed almost to be both impossible and inevitable. But that's in retrospect, with the distance of ten years.