mention that date and i flash immediately to where i was when i first got the news. i now live on the other side of the world, but i will never forget the day.
10 yrs ago, september 11, 2001, my husband and i were still asleep in topanga, california when we were woken by a distraught voice through the answering machine, telling us to turn on the tv. still half-dazed, we pointed the remote and the next moment the room was flooded with the most horrifying images. i know here in south africa, people cheered at the sight. i don’t understand that. my immediate thought was for my husband’s family in new york and then the sheer horror of all those people trapped in those buildings. it was horrendous and i don’t think the world will ever be the same.
i was never eager to gain an american passport, but after that day in 2001, i became an american citizen. partially so that i could have a say in who next occupied the white house (even though my first american vote was an exercise in futility), but i identified with all those incredible americans who are not yahoos, who are against any kind of war, who, when you meet them, will embrace you with wide open kindness, generosity and spirit. even though i’m born african and that will never change, i’m glad and proud to be one of those americans and whether i get to live on american soil again or not, i will always be glad of the welcome and opportunities i received and still do, everytime i return, and i will always miss the love and friendship i was given so unreservedly by those americans so generally and stereotypically, reviled by many around the world. i’m glad i know otherwise.
and i’ll say it again. i’m proud to be one of those americans.
(this is a poem i wrote at the time)
tomorrow is late
for the clocks were stopped today
time evaporating in a fiery ball
and with it all we know
of how a life is lived
a ghostly gray oblivion holds sway
so many vivid lights
today fear took flight on grim wings
a grisly nightmare from which we
the mind rebels
my mind repels reality as if any moment now
i’ll see the credits roll
relieved i’ll find that this is just
the spill of celluloid unspooling
the world is rapidly unhinging
our souls are singed –
“this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends…”
tomorrow is late
and despite our hopeful waiting
today will never come
we are standing in the shadow of dark wings
we need to send out the light
we need to bend back the black
we have been to the depths
now let us ascend
(this is mostly a repost of something i wrote a few yrs ago, still relevent … )