I think a lot of us learned to insulate ourselves from the pain of 911. I know I did. It was too large to encompass all at once. And as I learned more and more I took on more and more. But beyond the first day when I sat motionless for 24 hours watching the horror unfold before my eyes, I never really cried. But yesterday was different.
I heard a story where a poet read in the New York Times about the dogs who were trained to find a missing person by smelling a small article of scent. The dogs were tireless and worked and worked to please their master and satisfy their training. Which was to follow a scent, find the missing person, and bring him to his master to bask in earned praise.
The poet, D. Nurkse , wrote a poem about the story he read.
We gave our dogs a button to sniff,
or a tissue, and they bounded off
confident in their training,
in the power of their senses
to re-create the body.
but after eighteen hours in rubble
where even steel was pulverized
they curled on themselves
and stared up at us
and in their soft huge eyes
we saw mirrored the longing for death:
then we had to beg a stranger
to be a victim and crouch
behind a girder, and let the dogs
discover him and tug him
proudly, with suppressed yaps.
Back to Command and the rows
of empty triage tables.
But who will hide from us?
Who will keep digging for us
here in the cloud of ashes?
Yesterday, I cried.