Visit to Ground Zero

(Entry below was handwritten on 3/5/2002)

I finally got to visit ground zero this past Saturday, a site that is so sad. The front gates of Trinity Church are covered with several shrines to lost loved ones. It seems unreal, like a scene from a movie. Endless flags hand on the fence next to computer print out digital photos of smiling people who have died, instantly. The victims are young and old and middle-aged: husbands, wives, sisters, aunts-etc.

Some memorials are simple, like one of a woman. It’s her picture printed out with a caption reading “Smile in Heaven.” This woman looked happy. As did another woman with dark hair, someone’s wife named “Cora.” Her husband left up this picture and message to her saying he would always love his Cora. He included a short quote from a poem as well.

There are so many mementos ranging from teddy bears, T-shirts, crosses, and even a small, dirty hello kitty toy.  It is a heart breaking site and several people walking through the area break down into tears. As I did also, upon leaving the ramp.

The ramp was constructed to control traffic flow and spectators. Although ground zero is almost all cleaned up, visitors and tourists come in droves to walk for blocks for free tickets to view the site for three minutes. People leave crowds of messages scrawled on the walls of the ramp. Here are some of the messages I saw left by people from around the world:

“but I still love New York”

“God save us from your followers”

“We will never give in to the evil of hate”

“River of Fire”

“New Life Pathfinders”

“Love is the answer”

“The second coming of Jesus”

“Te odio Bin Laden. Muerete” (translation: ‘I hate you Bin Laden, Die’)

There were also drawings by small children, like two towers drawn encircled by a heart and a sad face with tears rolling down. The crying face was underneath a long list stretching across the wall of the ramp, facing those who had been on the platform. The list was names of the people lost in the planes that were used as weapons and the victims in the towers. Some of these names had been circled by family members (I presume) with a note saying “RIP.” I looked down at the drawing of a crying child and couldn’t help but be overcome.

Some of the visitors to the ramp and platform had never even seen the towers in person. They couldn’t imagine how tall they stood. When an officer explained (at the head of the line) how the towers were 50 stories higher than an adjacent building he referred to that is still standing, the tourists gasped in awe and disbelief. And it was in that moment that I saw in my mind and recalled how magnificently the towers stood, how unreal and thick they seemed and how you had to bend far back and crane your neck to get the whole picture.

Some people were brought to the place because of a tragedy, they never even got to witness the towers’ absolute beauty. I became angry. I wanted to turn back time so that anyone who hadn’t had the chance could see the towers. I wanted to give back to those victims’ families the loved ones that they lost.

Before actually reaching the viewing platform, I stood on line on the ramp in the middle of the rest of the onlookers. A plan flew silently over ground zero in the sky and a woman near me said “Doesn’t that just give you the willies?” Everyone seemed to notice the plane at the same time. And it was a horrible reminder.

I almost expected a building to pop up in front of the plane, as I and everyone have been inundated with footage from that day, and I saw both towers burning with my own two eyes from an express bus window. Everyone, when seeing that plane fly over the site, must’ve heard the crash again and seen the explosions and the desperation of the people trapped and burning, or jumping from the 104th floor.

It still seems unreal that this could’ve happened in America and that this event has impacted all life as we know it.


November 30, 2012. Tags: . writing. Leave a comment.

The Music of Poetry

(This entry was hand-written on 10/27/03. I was in a very dark place then, but I’m glad it produced this piece of writing)

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

Those lines by Sylvia Plath kept running through my mind all day. My mind heavy with sleep, with suffering and longing. My heart heavy and burdened and I couldn’t hold back the tears on the bus, both to and from work. There’s a scene in the movie “Sylvia” where she asks someone what to do “when your life gets as bad as it can, and just keeps getting worse.” And she is told that she should just “keep going.” But she meets that reply with a blank stare, unable to even ask anything more. Unable to ask for guidance or help.

She describes feeling like a negative of a person- hollow inside (I know just what feeling she meant) as if she were a non-entity. Someone who has never felt or wrote or thought anything. It’s like that feeling I have of being outside of my body- like my spirit escapes for brief moments and I feel panic coming on that I will forget how to breathe, how to stand, how to walk, how to talk. Somehow I bring myself back, but still never really feel as if I’m contained in my body, but floating outside myself, wondering always at my discomfort.

There is a beautiful music in those lines: ‘I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell, I guess you could say I’ve a call.’ It’s slow and meditative and reads slowly, commanding to be pondered, awed, studied, explored. I sang the lines in my head on the way home, walking through the rain, on damp sidewalks coated with soaked leaves. ‘I do it so it feels like hell. I guess you could say I’ve a call.’ It felt empowering and beautiful and sacred. I lost myself in the music of those lines.

Maybe it is the feeling of isolation or fear, of everything being so completely unknown, so meaningless. Everything I had and lost. Everything Sylvia had but she still could not bear living. It makes me wonder if anyone is ever really satisfied. Or if our longing is what keeps us alive- or ultimately destroys us in the end.

To have whole days just to write is my dream. So many ideas lost to idleness, to monotony, to mediocrity. I owe her more than that. As a living, breathing person, I want to believe I still have a chance to taste life, to obtain what I’ve always wanted, the only thing I could wish on, the only thing I could dream of. The only thing that is slowly taking my sanity: the desire for physical love- big, booming, shattering sweet, pleasurable, beautiful, life-altering love. The feeling of it- to be filled by another person. To breathe together as one. To be whole.

November 30, 2012. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.