Prose From the Soul: An Elegy for NYC

So much has happened since then.
Infants have become adults
and saplings have become full-grown trees.
In some cases,
the world has forgotten the existence of you.

Some people have forgotten about you
and your former skyline.
Some have never seen you;
at least, not the way you used to be.
But not me.

No, I remember.

I remember everything from the payphones
to the buildings to the corners
and the people who I’d see.
I remember everything about you.
I remember your stories.
I remember the feelings I had
when crossing the street for the first time
and looking up at you – so high, so tall
so inspiring and breathtaking
that I could not believe it . . .

There was a feeling back then.
You know?
There was a vibe, a sense, an affection and a pride.
There was an admiration, an affection, a praise,
and there was a sense of adherence
or an allegiance to the sight of you;
as if this was part of me;
or as if you were part of me,
because you are a part of me
My City

I have seen you through the eyes of a child
as well as a young man,
too afraid to step out of the ranks
and be myself yet here I am, still alive.

I am no longer a young man yet
I am still changing, still growing
and still admiring you
viewing you like a child
view the love and honor
the oldest member of their family

New York,
I have not forgotten you.
I have not forgotten the way you’ve accepted me
and comforted me or, at times,
I have not forgotten the way you have taught me –
even if the lessons were hard or stern or painful;
I have not forgotten you,
nor have I forgotten what you’ve done for me,
as in teach me how to love
to feel
or to dance. 

I have not forgotten your view
nor have I forgotten the first time I saw her, The Towers,
and as I looked up in complete and total amazement
I could not believe that people
built something like this – together
so tall, so incredible.

So much has happened since then.
I am no longer the young man I was
and neither is anyone else.
I was there and yet,
there is a generation who joins in the working world.
They talk like they know, but they were not there
and they seem to have a good opinion of what went down.
They were either unborn or only children.
They did not see what I saw
and though they believe their versions of tragedy,
they were not there with me when I saw the city run in fear.
They did not see the people covered in dust.
They were not with me when I held an unknown woman
crying in the middle of Penn Station.
They weren’t there when I turned to the TV
and saw the firemen
who carried my friend’s body away from the rubble.

A friend called me at the same time.
He and I had a mutual connection
in which, this was the intention of his call . . .
He called me to let me know.
He said “Benny,”
and as I heard him,
I turned my attention to the television
to see the repetitive nature of the planes
and the crashes reported to destroy you

He said, “They got Father Mike. . . .”
Here I am, all these years later
and I can still hear the words;
but worse,
I saw the news on the television
And there he was,
perhaps the kindest man I have ever met in my life
or in fact, one could argue
he was the kindest man in the history of our being. 

Father Mike.

New York, I have not abandoned you
nor will I ever go away
or not regard you as my home.
I will never leave you
nor will I ever allow my memories
to vanish or settle
like the unknown dust of the unfound bodies
who perished on this day,
Tuesday, September 11, 2001

We have grown since you’ve changed.
We have changed since you’ve grown
yet, with all that’s happened,
there are days when I take to the rooftops
at one of your tall buildings, just to look down,
just to see you standing in place
of the hole which filled my heart.
There you are – the new tower –
The Freedom Tower.

I have seen your pools of memory
and bent my knee.
I’ve folded my neck down to a forward bend
and closed my eyes to offer my deepest sincerity. 

New York,
I must question myself.
Have I done the right thing?
Have I done enough?
Have I done anything to protect you
or keep you from the shame of our mistakes?
Have I protected you or cleaned you
when someone littered or polluted you in any way?
Have I?

But New York,
of all things I know and of all things I have seen,
no one is as resilient as you are. 

No one can destroy you. No one can change who you are.
Not a thousand troops, nor bombs, nor terrorism.
No one can break you. At least, not to me.

I was there to see you fall and rebuild
and, still, you never changed
nor swayed away from me.

New York,
I have given you my heart and in return,
you have allowed me the freedom
to grow and do and see and to be.

I know this.

I am not sure if I am worthy
to be a prince in one of your many castles,
but either way, this is who I am
and this is who you are to me.

So much has changed since then

Children have become men and women
Facades have been resurfaced.
Landscapes have changed.
People have moved away.
Some have passed or moved to places,
elsewhere with warmer climates
and retirement communities
to wear funny shorts
or take pictures by the palm trees

So much has changed since then
Since you . . .
Since September 11, 2001

I will always remember.
I will never surrender
United we stand.
Until we see each other again ~
Rest well, my friends.

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