In the perfect stillness, in the quiet,
over the waste, beyond the silence,
you move. Movement is everywhere:
through the smoke, through the noise,
past the barriers and into the chaos,
to this very day.

You, you innocents,
you are in your perfection, perfect,
and will remain that way forever,
of this there is no doubt—
even after we have long forgot you.

We have too many mass-murder victims. And because their lives are cut short so unexpectedly, to those left behind to grieve, their memories of their loved ones may always be caught up in, and constantly looping through, those last dreadful moments. But to us bystanders, as the years slip by, the truth is we just forget them as people. We may invoke their memories on each anniversary or when the topic arises, but only as a collected identity: the victims of that day’s terrible events. We do not remember them as individuals, ones who had lives and loves and hopes and fears and plans, and who deserve to be remembered that way, not as justification or explanation for what ensued thereafter.

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being one such. Originally entitled To this very day, that poem was eventually renamed 9/11/2001, the name whereby the other portion of the original still goes by.

The photograph was taken on a trip to Pompeii, Italy. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Victims

  1. My sister had a problem leaving a memory and asked me to post this for her:
    I LOVED this poem! In fact I printed it and I placed it in my prayer book. Thank you soooo much for both poems!