Saturday, September 11, 2010

Were She Around Today

A darting fear—a pomp—a tear—
A waking on a morn
To find that what one waked for,
Inhales the different dawn.

Emily Dickinson


Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together.

Susan Sontag

September 11, 2010, New York City

Were she around today, Miss Dickinson might
well have found a way to say it. She’d leave
the politics to frogs – and their admiring bogs –
but maybe think of Susan Sontag*, careful never
more than cryptically to cite her, to imply how wise

that pundit was in pointing out how blind our eyes
had been to the calamities we’d all incurred
and buried long before: which underlay the lore
and powers (theirs and ours) that brought down
those towers. Emily would do that in a word. She’d

know there was no heaven on the dazzling blue
eleven of September, Twenty-zero-one. And that
there was none, now, in Twenty-ten. Perhaps there
never had been any-when, save in the wonder
we are able sometimes to invoke in a creation

that does not completely choke the life out of some
other human spirit: a way to see our strange
and marvelous capacity to grasp the horror,
tenderness, bewilderment and glory even in this
woe- and foe-begotten story: a way, in fact,

somehow, to glimpse the vast imponderable entity,
and cheer it: make it clear, and fit: human traits,
with which, at last, we might more comfortably sit –
that we’d like to think could be enduring.
But Emily would never be that reassuring.


September 24, 2001, New Yorker, "Talk of the Town" (Susan Sontag is the seventh writer down, or third from the last).


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