Two gallant towering Titans gleamed
In morning’s early light,
With a welcome to a working world
In the Land that hope unites.
Their myriad eyes looked on like ours
Transfixed with disbelief
As flaming arrows struck their sides
‘Till even steel felt grief.
The raging fires recalled the time
They first were forged to be
The stalwart standards of New York,
Two pillars of Liberty.
What forger called the furnace hence?
What next were they to be?
No time to think of the afterlife,
Or the pain of this savagery.
They awoke to their call in this perilous fight!
For, you see, they had oft heard the song
Of “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”
And knew they must still be strong.
The twin sentinels held firm as long as they could
To protect each fragile ward,
Though the fires that ripped through their very bowels,
Left them battered and shattered and charred.
And if hearts they had, they surely broke,
As they watched their dear charges fly
From the shoulders of those who were tasked to protect;
The whole world heard their audible cry!
But as their eyes dimmed, they were let to behold
What no others on earth could yet see —
The angels who caught every soul ere it fell,
Which on wings of its own, then flew free.
At that they each gave a wrenching sigh;
They had no more left to give.
Their shame evoked one humble prayer:
Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!
Then one by one, those warriors brave,
Sank as nobly to the earth
As tons of concrete, steel and glass
Could, to still prove their worth.
And as molten steel passed each undaunted heart
Of those heroes who’d all come to serve,
It captured a beat from each precious one
It so valiantly hoped to preserve.
Does a tiny heart of steel still beat
Beneath the rubble deep?
And will those Titans be recalled,
Or will they forever sleep?
Then we learned that our greatest bastion was hit
By a vessel of unwilling souls,
And the walls had been rent and the citadel breached;
In a moment, a young nation grew old.
Smoke clouds rose to the skies with dashed voyagers’ dreams,
Parents’ promises, patriots’ plans,
And hopes of star students to learn of the world —
They now the subject of the world’s study of man.
In a farmer’s green field one evil scheme failed,
Though the story may never be told,
How a wife’s calm assent launched a fight to the death
By a band of the free and the bold.
Those heroes who fell had saved countless lives,
And the shrine of the free and the brave.
Because of their courage, freedom’s home stands today
Where the Star-Spangled Banner yet waves.
From far and from wide to the ends of the earth
We watched those beloved Titans fall,
Again and again, all the day and all night,
‘Till horror numbed our souls,
And we breathed the smoke, and we felt the heat,
Though across the world we dwelled,
And with tears on our cheeks and prayers on our lips
We kept vigil as though impelled,
As though somehow by holding them all in our thoughts
We were helping the lost ones hold on,
And by praying as hard as ever we’d prayed
We could comfort some lost mother’s son.
But as days wore on, and hopes grew dim,
Our prayers took another bent;
After shock, rage and pain had wrung our hearts dry,
We prayed, “God, make us more reverent.”
“Let us hold life more dear, those both far and near,
Let us truly bring peace to Your earth,
Let us show all the world that we cherish each life,
Let our actions prove every soul’s worth.
“Grant us courage to be strong amidst a world of formless fears,
And reclaim our hopes and dreams, our joy and fun;
Grant us strength to keep our faith in higher powers, Yours and ours,
We who wield the power of the sun.
“Help the angels of our better natures rise to freedom’s song
And lead the charge of justice on her path,
So our own avenging angels do not strike in blind revenge
And wreak unbridled ruin with their wrath.
“And show us how to honor all the souls we lost that day
From the Towers and our Fortress
and the Farmers Field, we pray,
So the anguish that unites us as one people to the core
Rises as an anthem we’ll hold sacred ever more.”
Looking up to the sky once brought moments of joy:
Trees and sunrise and birds overhead,
And cloud-touching skyscrapers, steeples and planes.
Now I scarcely looked one step ahead,
For our once gleaming cities were now dimmed by tears,
And the soot turning day into night,
And our great silver birds were abducted with force
And hurled back at us like dynamite.
The silence of fear held me tight in its grip;
I lived grieving in war’s aftermath.
I heard no birds sing, saw no planes overhead
Though I lived in a major flight path.
Then one day when my heart couldn’t hold anymore,
I sat out in the sunshine to pray.
My heart stopped at the sound of a roar overhead;
I looked up — Just a plane on its way!
The most beautiful plane that ever I’d seen,
Glinting silver and white in the sun.
My heart leapt with joy at the glorious sight!
In some great battle, Freedom had won.
As I looked a while longer I saw all around
Something helping the plane in the sky —
And then tumbling and playing — The Heavens were filled
With new angels just learning to fly!
© Carolyn Kluckhuhn Long, 2001
(Reproduce only with author’s copyright.)