For such a truly appalling day, I am surprised that memories of the suicide terrorist attack have faded as much as they seem to. Indeed, today's New York Times could not remember the order in which the towers collapsed! A correction was published online, stating: "And the article misstated the order in which the World Trade Center towers fell. The south tower fell first, not the north tower." Oh dear.
The correction came with a story of how before September 11th, 2001, there was a Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower. This is significant because some Muslim guy plans to open a mosque and interfaith interpretive center near to Ground Zero. This "Ground Zero" mosque has caused America's collective moron to stumble out of the Texas Fried Coon 'n' Grease Saloon and into the studios of Fox TV to spout.
Wild words have flared across the airwaves; a Florida preacher with a congregation of maybe 50 people has grabbed the headlines by threatening to burn copies of the Koran on live TV. The cast of characters in this silliness now includes Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg and President Obama, but I can't even be bothered to explain who, what and why.
I want to say that I oppose the mosque. If we are to consistent, let's oppose the other equally backward and superstitious shrines to mumbo-jumbo, the Catholic and other Churches, and any synagogues or temples, which are already all around the WTC site in abundance. A religious America somehow brings this great and crazy country down to the same level as religious nuts everywhere. Wouldn't an atheistic U.S.A. totally scare the world silly?
Returning to Ground Zero for a moment: does anyone remember the priest who claimed to have found a couple of steel girders in the WTC wreckage in the shape of a cross, saying his find had to be a miracle... Incredible: in a building which was held aloft by steel forged into probably millions of 90 degree angles, that priest found girders forming the shape of a cross!
And what miracle was this anyway, finding a futile wee cross after the planes had hit, after the towers had fallen, as the terrorists' pals cheered, as Cheney licked his lips? A miracle might have been a huge hand plucking each plane out of the sky, setting it down softly on the ground, admonishing the hijackers, Go, sin no more.
Apt or not, I quote in full, "Riding the Elevator into the Sky," (below; thanks MUG), and also mention a new book (image above).
Riding the Elevator Into the Sky
By Anne Sexton (1975)
As the fireman said: Don't book a room over the fifth floor in any hotel in New York. They have ladders that will reach further but no one will climb them. As the New York Times said: The elevator always seeks out the floor of the fire and automatically opens and won't shut. These are the warnings that you must forget if you're climbing out of yourself. If you're going to smash into the sky.
Many times I've gone past the fifth floor, cranking upward, but only once have I gone all the way up. Sixtieth floor: small plants and swans bending into their grave. Floor two hundred: mountains with the patience of a cat, silence wearing its sneakers. Floor five hundred: messages and letters centuries old, birds to drink, a kitchen of clouds. Floor six thousand: the stars, skeletons on fire, their arms singing. And a key, a very large key, that opens something — some useful door — somewhere — up there.
Author of Manhattan Skyscrapers (book cover image at top) Eric Nash will speak September 21st at 630pm at the Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place, NYC.
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme— why are they no help to me now I want to make something imagined, not recalled? I hear the noise of my own voice: The painter’s vision is not a lens, it trembles to caress the light. But sometimes everything I write with the threadbare art of my eye seems a snapshot, lurid, rapid, garish, grouped, heightened from life, yet paralyzed by fact. All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened? Pray for the grace of accuracy Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination stealing like the tide across a map to his girl solid with yearning. We are poor passing facts, warned by that to give each figure in the photograph his living name