Elizabeth Murfee

New York City September 27 2001

“The skeletal remains…of one building, soaring up some 10-12 stories in jagged lines, are oddly sculptural, like an artist’s testament.”

Today I went down to the World Trade Center site, as close as they allow.  I needed to see it for real, instead of the TV scenes that seem more like a Stephen Spielberg movie.

The glimpses from Rector Street were startling, and more than that, they were raw and savage. Debris still stands about 5 stories high, even after tons and tons have been removed. The skeletal remains of the outside of one building, soaring up some 10-12 stories in jagged lines, are oddly sculptural, like an artist’s testament. I agree with Phillippe de Montebello, that they should remain as a fitting memorial to this tragedy; they are eloquent.

“Large bivouac tents of Army green are sprinkled all through Battery Park.”

The area is fenced off and guarded by National Guard men and women in camouflage but no guns—along with “NYC’s finest” policemen and women, fully equipped with weapons.  Large bivouac tents of Army green are sprinkled all through Battery Park.

I took a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry, past Liberty Island and gasped at how beautiful the copper green statue looked on this clear, bright day; even the gold in her torch was gleaming. But no one was on the Island, still closed to visitors. NY harbor is filled with Coast Guard vessels, big white ships and smaller white cruisers, and one orange zodiac zooming along.

Then I dared to look back at the NYC skyline, to see the absence. It is still a beautiful, beautiful skyline.  It is hard to see what isn’t there anymore.  And then the angle of the ferry changed and I could see all this empty space, in the middle of so many buildings.  That’s where the twin towers were once.  Now just space, empty, vacant space.

© Elizabeth Murfee

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