I find interesting that we talk about going back to normal and the 9/11 tragedy within the same week. As humans our ability to adapt and compartmentalize our lives is a wonderous trait (it’s what helped those who survived slavery survive). Sunday night I watched a 60 Minutes special on the burning of the World Trade Center and as a social justice poet I was happy to see that they did the due diligence to include an African American in the documentary (albeit only one). Although the founding of the NYFD dates to 1865 I was pleased to see that 60 Minutes sought out an African American woman firefighter. The first African American firefighter of record was a woman and a slave named Molly Williams; she was a firefighter with NYFD Volunteer No. 11 unit.
Regina Wilson, the African American firefighter in the 60 Minutes episode said something that moved me. She said she didn’t want the history of what happened that day to simply be a page in a book that was turned and forgotten. Wow!
I thought about us as poets and historical writers who continue to tell the narratives of our ancestors as well as the daily mundane tales. I believe we feel compelled to remind that even breathe cannot be forgotten. So many stories to tell of tragedy and triumph; of justice and injustice; of peace and war. All the important stories should be told again and again by the wordsmiths at the time. I hope in some way that is normal. When I think about it in that way, I find joy in getting back to normal, realizing in an ever-changing universe – today is normal.
Peace, Love and Poetry 💜
A letter to George Floyd in Heaven
Remember when you were a kid and
your mom like my mom told you the police were our friends.
Remember when you played cops and robbers?
Were you like me and always wanted to be the cop?
because the police were good, and the robbers were bad.
George do you remember when your friends
like my friends would get a spanking and
cry real hard and the spanking would stop.
Do you remember when you caught
the winning football pass and the crowd all cheered.
Do you remember when you cried for your mama
when she died and when you cried for her again and
she came and walked you to heaven.
I don’t want you to remember the knee on your neck
or the one on your legs.
I will remember for you.
I will remember you.
I will pray you can breathe now.
I will remember that you couldn’t and
I will not let time forget.
© 2019 Patti Ross
– from my book St. Paul Street Provocations, published by Yellow Arrow Publishing July 2021