I. Not Today (Yesterday)
Many yesterdays ago, in a feverish time,
When Hell bent the world in a peaceful sign,
High over York rose a towering display.
Alas for that hope evil was born to betray.
At his birth seers warned, “The end of the world is today.”
Travel’d we there to gaze at the sight,
To witness this twin silver monument to might.
It soared to the clouds, to conquer the sky.
While others exclaimed, I only could sigh,
“Shadows fall over a day far from today.”
Fearfully I stared at the façade’s Gothic arch,
Then up the sleek girders gusted by March.
“What think you,” asked they, “of buildings so tall?”
Said I, with a shudder, “York’s Towers shall fall.”
“How say you so, miss?! They rose only today!”
“Peevish nonsense,” cried they, “from a girl of thirteen!
‘Tis but dizzy heights imagination has seen.”
Dazzling towers I’d view’d that rose to great heights.
But no pinnacle had crush’d the heart with such fright.
“The Towers will fall! I’ve seen enough for today!”
A bright future those slender arches belied;
Beyond their façade lay the ruins of pride.
Above their cold shadow, silver met the gold sun.
But its weight poorly borne, frail beauty’d succumb.
“Pray God, should they fall, let it not be today!”
Up we sped through the tower, my mind ill at ease,
Fears foster’d in magnitude by brothers who tease.
In mind’s eye did approach future terror on wing.
‘Twixt heav’n and earth, no refuge to cling.
Mist-vanish’d fate’s bolt would not strike today.
“How come you to think of such gloomy disaster?
Give us some reason for this Armageddon of plaster!”
“Perhaps an explosion, like the ones that wrack Eire;
A bomb in the basement, or maybe the spire.”
“One tower may explode, but not both in one day!”
“To accomplish that feat would need an army of men
To go unseen from floor one to one hundred and ten!”
“A storm then,” tried I, “with a wind of such power
To shatter the glass and send it down in a shower.”
“The sun shines brightly! There’s no danger today!”
“Its supports are outside,” one yielded, “’tis true.
A fire could melt it, but could a fire melt two?
For lightning to strike twice would be quite a plan.”
Said I, in a caution, “Don’t underestimate Man.”
“We promise the Towers won’t fall – not today!”
Man builds empires up to the sky;
The physical materials God does supply.
But the material world’s the Devil’s to rule.
Against Man’s ambition, he plots chaos most cruel.
Man can’t reach Heaven with towers of steel
Nor trade for God’s love by making a deal.
Yet York’s Towers won’t fall by God’s loving hand –
The spiteful Devil shall knock down our castles of sand.
“The Towers won’t fall. What more can we say?!”
Away in disgust my audience drew.
‘Twas impossible for a girl to know what I knew.
Not for my pleasure did I divine the Unknown.
Sight came unbidden, unwillingly shown.
“They won’t see the truth. Oh no, not today.”
II. Signs of the Times (Today)
Now it’s today and people are weeping.
From the inferno, the hopeless are desperately leaping.
One tower wobbles, wagging its finger,
“Calamity’s upon you, dare not you linger!”
At Hudson’s last bridge, they look’d for a sign;
Their target in sight, with Fate they align’d.
Like a bird in whose reflection an enemy glares,
They slamm’d through the glass with their innocent fares.
To fight such a blaze needs an army of men
To climb from floor one to one hundred and ten.
Ten claxons clang for the World Trade Center;
Into the fiery maw, only the bravest dare enter.
Heroes and victims pass on the stairs.
Fate’s the precarious splitting of hairs.
Gasping for breath and toting their gear,
Those who go up must set aside fear.
York halts in horror to stare at the sight;
Billows of smoke turning day into night.
How, on this perfect day of sky blue,
Could tragedy strike, such hatred spew?
Stop up your ears to the thunder of rubble,
To the explosion of rage bursting our bubble.
To safety the panicking crowds madly run
From the hideous cloud that wipes out the sun.
All that is left of the towers I saw
Is the skeleton clinging to life by a claw.
Nothing is left to bury the dead.
Their ashes have buried the city instead.
The shadow of silence befalls our great land;
All music and laughter – even our band.
Not a bird, not a plane, not a single sweet note.
Every sound but crying has the enemy smote.
Six weeks has it taken for peace to return.
Even now, the smoldering ruins still burn.
“How could this happen?” ask we, wringing our hands.
“America was surely the safest of lands?”
Long is the story of sorrow and grief,
Of how America fail’d to keep out the thief.
Of closing our eyes and our ears to the fey.
Of saying too often, “Oh no, not today.”
Into our country fanatics were welcome,
No matter how dang’rous their activities made them.
Political correction corrupted the rules,
Allowing them to march onto our planes with their tools.
The mind guards fast an obstinate gate
Against the grim specter of unthinkable Fate.
When safe in the present Men warnings ignore,
The future’s a battlefield scarred by war.
III. The Test of Time (Tomorrow)
The long year has passed and now it’s tomorrow.
Fate’s spared us to finish the tale of our sorrow.
The fall of York’s Towers caus’d the breaking of hearts,
Suffr’d even by those with the smallest of parts.
On that terror-fill’d day, York stood not alone;
Against other symbols was death being flown.
Anxiously, Americans scanned the blue sky
For zealots who were praying to Allah to die.
For three harrow’d days after the fall,
O’er York hung bleak a dust-poisn’d pall.
For three days more, the cold North Wind flew,
Restoring the sky to that morning’s true blue.
In funerals and ceremonies to honor the dead,
Sad songs were sung and eulogies read.
The Towers deflated to a six-story pile;
An anguish to clear in air cindr’d vile.
One sleepy dawn came a low distant thunder;
With a roar it rent the stricken silence asunder.
The eagle was bound for strife-ridden lands,
Bringing justice’s wrath to those hid in the sands.
The grief-stupor’d nation awakened at last.
The Ground Zero flag flew from Ted’s mast.
No more taken for granted the stars and the stripes;
Freedom’s banner wav’d defiant in all sizes and types.
On went the descent of the now-aging year,
Yet the season of fall was loth to appear.
Springtime’s red robin, driven off by fall’s crows,
Returned to the garden and sang in the boughs.
Straight through the winter robin sang a bright tune.
The rose bloomed at Christmas as though it were June.
A balm of peace offr’d at the gift-giving season.
God’s mercy and pity transcend human reason.
Travel’d we back to gaze at the site;
Gone is the twin silver monument to might.
Where once lofty arches loomed fragile but fair,
Naught now remains but columns of air.
‘Tis lighter and warmer, but the shadows are chill;
Disbelief and mute awe do the empty void fill.
In the ruins the echoes of footsteps still clatter
And the wind carries whispers of long-ago chatter.
“Sixty years when I’m old?” asks a young voice from the past.
“Will that be how long York’s Towers will last?”
“More like thirty;” says the elder, “’tis I who’ll be gray.”
Twenty-nine years and six months, give or take an odd day.
When view’d from the past, tomorrow’s but today.
Always in mem’ry may York’s Towers arise;
Remember their splendor and not their demise.
May those who were lost be found in God’s glory
And granted a happier end to this story.
The Towers of York – A Ballad
Copyright Ó2001 Carole J. Rafferty