Today is the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I have been trying to articulate how I’ve felt about this all weekend. Looking back at iconic and horrific images from that day, the one that stuck with me the most was the one known as “The Falling Man.” Staring at the image of this man, I was able to begin to express how that day affected me, in poem format. The picture invokes deep sadness and sympathy, but today we try to honor 9/11 with acts of good and service in the spirit of that notion that “only light can conquer darkness.” For that reason I re-imagined the “Falling Man” as a “Flying Man.”
The Flying Man
I reached to stop you
But you’d decided
It was time.
You looked at me and
In your eyes, resolve
Your vital and final choice.
Running, leaping valiantly
Fear turned courage and power
You wouldn’t let them win.
In the heat there were two choices
And in this you held fast
Be crushed in metal and ash, or fly free once more.
You did not fall. You flew.
Plunging through the finely spun web that was your life
Interwoven with those who touched you
and whom you’d touched in return.
Flying alongside I held your hand
Together we watched faces in windows flash
Some would be ghosts, angels.
Air whipping past you told me secrets
Final confessions shouted into the loud wind
I smiled to comfort you.
As we flew, I uttered to you, too
Vows made as a child, before I knew
The key turned, a spark ignited, an inch of growth marked on the wall.
As your life replayed in flight, mine shaped
On our flight, I grew wings of wisdom
Wings of my own resolve.
The long flight grew short
Your impact was a flash and a transferrence
It would become my impact.
For when death had faced you
Faced with few options
You chose a final flight.
And I, who lived, flying away with wings that sprouted
Am faced with so many more choices
Yet only one that fits:
To lift others when they fall.