Who Are With You"
(for the school children of P.S. 234 and
Stuyvesant High School)
the windows of P.S. 234 one child sees bodies falling,
"Look, the birds are on fire." Child, it is the birds
of our innocence. Every time a body tumbles
toward earth, two little boys make the sign of the cross.
They do what they can. Stuyvesant High School students
stumble out of Latin, Chem. I, Microbiology, all transformed
into theater students wearing costumes of ash and masks of dust.
Led over Brooklyn Bridge, several whom you do not see
go with you.
Marianne Moore, I know you're flying,
your magical cloak, like superman's, spread like wings
above the children, your benign face
beneath your tricorn hat, "Like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge...come flying."
you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence
to me, and more in my meditations than you might suppose."
Oh, Walt, they do not wail nor weep, but they will come
to weeping. There are not enough tears to wash away
sews Lady Liberty a new and terrible dress.
People are falling or jumping,
not like the movies with sleek swan dives,
but grotesque, jerking tumbles, neckties floating out
like pennants of distress.
avails not, time nor placedistance avails not,
I am with you, men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a
in the fire is the man
with the nervous shark tooth.
Somewhere his cohorts are dancing obscene dances
to the goddess of death. Oh, Stamboul Queen,
you have seen the "teased remnants of the skeletons
of cities." Great girders lean naked,
raw ribs of the city, stripped of flesh,
fires beneath them will burn seven weeks later...
that ghastly sweet smell you cannot speak of.
Oh, humankind's soul is more fragile than flesh.
of Them Together
Hart Crane sees the Hand of Fire behind you,
and somewhere in the crowd he is the sailor stumbling
along beside you, trying to catch up with Marianne Moore
hovering above you, and Walt Whitman, tramping along,
who keeps reciting, "Who knows, for all the distance
I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot
Hart, Mariannein the broken glass,
let the children step lightly, let them pass
unscathed, as unscathed as any
on this day of agony.
copyright 2001 Ann Struthers
All Rights Reserved