09/06/2014 11:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

September 11, 2001

Two days after September, 11, 2001, still dazed and in grief, I wrote a poem for children, trying to make sense of the horrific events we had witnessed. I published it on my website, where it has sat quietly for lo, these many years. Last week, I visited the new 9/11 Museum in Manhattan for the first time where they've done an amazing job of recreating, documenting, and discussing that day in history. It reminded me of my poem. Do you think it has held up? The picture of me was taken this past June in front of the new Freedom Tower.

A cowardly bully came out
of his cave today to
trespass on our shining city.
Out of the blue
he had the nerve
to punch out its
two front teeth.
The pain is excruciating
Bleeding is everywhere.
The remaining stumps are
We've lost our pretty smile.
We can't bite a big apple.
It's hard to look at mutilation.

Dazed, we check for damage.
Although choking on thick air,
we are very much alive.
Our heartbeat is strong.
There is no drop in our vital signs.
Blood rushes in to replace
blood lost.
Slowly we discover
we can still chew
and make a fist and

Oh yes, we'll make sure
this "holy" terror
can never return
to our playground
or our friends.'
But how?
How do we shadow box
a villain who doesn't
play by the rules?
We see evidence
of our noble,
and loving spirit.
Yet hate destroys
within as well as without.

Here then is our challenge:
We must keep this wound
from festering
becoming toxic to ourselves.
We must imagine the unimaginable
to thwart evil
before it comes back for more.
We must seek justice,
not vengeance to
preserve our soul.
We must trust our leaders
who see more
than this one tormenter.
We must be brave
and patient
and faithful.

As good as we believe
ourselves to be,
we must become better.

Scar tissue is stronger
than unscarred.

Text copyright © 2001 by Vicki Cobb


If you would like to hear me read it, go to today's Nonfiction Minute.