Pillar of Salt

Every year, I try to rewrite my 9/11 essay, “Poo-tee-weet?”, so that it will be good. Every year, I fail.

I sit down with it, and I read it, and I cringe at how disorganized and poorly written it is. I start thinking about how to reorganize it and clean it up, so that it’s tighter and more eloquent.

And then I get to the end, and I just can’t do it.

The last section examines how I don’t know what to say, how perhaps there is nothing to say. And every year, I realize, I still have no idea how to intelligently comment on what happened – on the events of that terrible day or on the consequences we’ve all born as a result.

What I remember most about 9/11 and my feelings and the essay is how I recalled the words of Kurt Vonnegut:

. . . there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.

And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like ‘Poo-tee-weet?’

Fifteen years later, I can’t do any better than the birds. I can’t think of any way to write something intelligent about a massacre or its aftermath.

And so, I recall the words of Vonnegut again:

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.

People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.

I’ve finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun.

This one is a failure, and it had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt.

That’s all I can think of to say this year. Maybe next year things will be different.

But salt pillars don’t type very well.


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