This poem came about after the two towers fell. At first it was like a hush fell over the world. First as one plane came down and then another. Then there was the search for the missing flight, which we found out later had been crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Where brave men and women on a flight decided to take action into their own hands and take power away from terrorists. Sacrificing their lives for countless others.
I recall where I was that day. A single mom, who could only work part time, I was scheduled for surgeries for carpel tunnel syndrome. My daughter was supposed to go to school that day. I arose early, we needed milk and a few things and I had decided to pawn some music and my boom box along with my wedding rings to obtain groceries. It was weird, driving in my car to the pawn shop. The radio wasn’t playing music. They were talking in hushed tones. The pawn shop the door was open and people were talking, listening to a radio, but the closed sign was firmly in place.
Trying to make sense of what was going on, I immediately realized that something big had occurred. Like Pearl Harbor big, having such a large impact it would effect generations. I told my kids I was heading back home and turned the car around and headed home. It was on the way I began to piece details together over the reverent tones on the radio. I hurriedly went in and turned on my little 13 inch TV with DVR. Just as I did so, there was an audible gasp from the News broadcaster, as they said there is another plane, and I watched it crash into the second tower.
Aghast at the images I saw, I realized that many were going to die today and that we were heading to war. Then the papers and bodies began falling. I asked my children to go play outside, I called the school and said I was keeping my daughter home today. Until I know it is safe. We opened doors, it was warm that day, a true Indian Summer. Our kids laughed and played but there was a hesitancy to their play, as if asking if they could be permitted to be merry when clearly their parents were worried. I gasped and started crying as the first tower fell.
“No No No!” Screams could be heard from houses and apartments nearby as neighbors came out and hugged each other and wept for the loss of surely thousands of people who would die, then we all ran back in, and cried silently as another tower fell, and there was silence and dust and people wandering through the streets on the TV and we held our breath, wondering who would be okay, if there would be any survivors.
I can recall that people were nicer to each other for a while. At least for a few days, Just a few days, people drove around with flags waving them. We watched the President stand with Fireman who had raised a flag on the rubble, which came to represent our angst. Our heartbreak and our ability to rise up in the face of adversity. Determined to face what the future held for us, it was perfect that it was Firemen were the ones to do this, they rescue us after all, true heroes.
Could there be anything sweeter than the patriotism and love we felt for one another as a nation? Yes I believe there is. Out of this sparked a rise in nationalism in our country that has forever tarnished it. I wish we could have seen then, the damage this line of thinking of hatred for another people who were culturally different from us. We need to remember that all peoples have good and bad people. That we should look at the individuals actions rather than grouping everyone into a massive group and condemning all or condoning all when some are sinners. When the bricks began to be thrown through Mosques, I remember I had to re-evaluate my own prejudices from growing up in an isolated mostly white society and choose to follow that path or to walk away from it and embrace a better way. Then they were showing a Monet exhibit on TV, and this is where this poem was born.
If I was Monet
If I was Monet what would I paint of today’s world?
Would I paint dusty debris broken buildings exposed like steel skeletons?
Tear stained ashen covered faces of fear?
Afghani women dressed in black hustling down streets in a country filled with terror?
Shopkeeper windows broken with notes of passed out hatred?
An Afghan prison where men with guns preach the opposite of their native faith?
Do I paint the face of Hatred Terror and Fear?
If I was Monet I would paint…
Glittering candles flickering on faces of love
Muslims in mosques preaching peace and tolerance
Flags in neighbor’s yards and on their cars
Fireman raising a standard of hope
The colors of Justice and Freedom
The faces of leaders and heroes with quiet resolve
Fellow members of Earth extending humanity and charity to each other
I would paint communities of love praising God
I would paint a world of love, charity and hope
If I was Monet…
C. Lin Rawlins Originally written on Sept 15, 2001 revision 4-1-2002