Fall 2001 was quite an eventful semester at the University of Maryland, and not just because of 9/11. Just before Labor Day weekend, DH had to take me to the hospital (despite NOT knowing the area, so I had to navigate) from early week practices of marching band because of an asthma attack. There was a rash of robberies on campus and in town. On about September 6, a guy died on the steps of a frat house of GHB. On September 10, a guy died on the railroad tracks. Then there was the obvious, made especially frightening there both because of the high New York/New Jersey population concerned about family members and because it turned out that two of the hijackers had stayed at a nearby motel and worked out at the gym at the mall we all went to. And then, on September 24, a tornado went across the campus and killed two students.
There was definitely good that semester as well. The most important to me was that my sister Catie was born that year, on October 23. My cousin got married on September 15. DH and I were in the first months of being together, in that stage where everything feels perfect despite, in our case, living 8 hours apart. We even had random snow flurries in September! The football team was under a new coach and was ranked for the first time in a long time. But even that had a significant downside. When part of the marching band went down to an away game at Georgia Tech and won by 3 in OT, we had bottles thrown at us and were attacked by students after the game. Two years before, when we had lost by 3 in OT, there were some guys who tried to grope the flags, and one of our staff members got hit after he told the guy he couldn't cut through the band. So I had been holding my flag ready to use it on anyone who tried to grope me and trying to make sure the freshmen girls were in the middle of the formation. But we sure didn't expect what we got! I'll never forget watching a drum major and a staff member take down a guy that was running through the band throwing punches.
Since that was the semester when I was taking a poetry class (it was on the way to that class when I saw the flurries, actually!), I wrote a sestina about how crazy the semester had been. I'm pairing it with some REM here because that song really was what that semester felt like.
What have we come to,
Living in College Park?
Weeks of tornadoes, robberies and death?
Going through our days in fear of what will be next?
And football made the Top 25 polls--
Hell really has frozen over!
At least we're not in Central Park,
In the city of collapsed buildings and death,
Wondering who will get anthrax next.
Bush's approval is rising in the polls,
But where will he be when this is all over?
What will his presidency reduce to?
And now the Afghans are the ones to taste death,
But which military unit will they send next?
Many support a draft, so they say in the polls,
But how will they feel when their sons go over?
How long will this go on? Will it come down to
The little kids that now play in a park?
Will the band get attacked when next
We go help our team rise in the polls?
Or does the Georgia Tech brawl mean that our trips are over?
The worst that we thought would happen to
Is is that we would get grabbed, then come back to our Park.
At least this incident didn't end in death.
In years, our kids will come back and take polls
Of who knew and who died and who thought it was over
The day our security shattered into
A million ashes spread out on Central Park--
The ashes of buildings and fires and death.
Who knew on that day so much more would come next?
The frightening thing is, it will never be over.
There will always be people who want to
Impose their views onto others, down to where to park,
And don't care if the price is their own children's death.
The only unknown is where will be next,
What country has topped the terrorists' polls.
Whew. That's the first and only time I've done a full six-stanza sestina. There was a contest going on BlogHer for writing sestinas. Actually, it's for a different fixed-form poem every week; this week is a villanelle. But that is more work and time than I have to devote to poetry right now. Maybe later in the month, but I doubt it.