If you say September 11th or 9/11, pretty much everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about. The date has become so infamous that you don’t need to mention the year; ‘2001’ is understood.
Not so with the day before. 9/10 is not a thing. I never hear anyone talking about where they were or what they were doing that day. It’s as if it were completely irrelevant, a non-event. For example, you probably don’t remember (or didn’t know to begin with) that it was a rainy day in NYC on September 10th, 2001. But I remember. I was there.
Of all possible days, my brother and I chose the 10th for a little Manhattan walkabout. We could’ve just as easily scheduled it for the day after. It all comes down to this: the proverbial dodged bullet, the overwhelming gust of history catapulting past, missing me by an unbelievably small margin.
The catastrophe in general, and that sensation in particular, inspired two of my poems: Irony – September, 2001 (The Writing Disorder & The Best Poetry of 2012), and 10th, 11th (Moonshot Magazine – pg. 16). Both of these poems deal in one way or another with the before/after dichotomy wrapped up in 9/11. Another poem, Unidentified (Phantom Kangaroo), is more about the lingering psychological after-effects, a pervasive surrealism and fear so strong that a possible UFO sighting is easy enough to dismiss just so long as it isn’t a terrorist attack.
Fourteen years on, it’s hard to know what to say or how to feel. There are still people mourning. There are new monuments and new sky scrapers. There are conspiracy theories galore. There is talk of cancer and other residual side-effects. There is a seemingly never-ending supply of wars, of terrorists and counter-terrorism squads. No apt summary is possible.
All I can do is look back at the few photos I took that day (as described in 10th, 11th), shake my head, and think, “this was the day before”.
(Note: In 10th, 11th I claim that the pictured mural was done by Chuck Close, but I have no proof for that and have begun to seriously doubt my assertion. If anyone has further information about it, I’d greatly appreciate it.)