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Poetry and Medicine
September 10, 2003

The Bells

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(10):1285. doi:10.1001/jama.290.10.1285

(11 September 2001)

We stand together in a different darkness
where it is raining ashes: Ashes
in our shoes and in our hair and in our daily
bread. Ashes everywhere. What prayers
are left? Bereft we face a startled landscape:
shattered steel and glass suggesting that
deep within the logic of all things lies Chaos.
Many thousand souls new woven
on the loom of stars. At Ground Zero we gaze
upon an Absence in thin air where Gemini
towers plunged to earth with unsuspecting sons
and mothers, daughters and lovers raped
of life, scorched by the torch of Death.
Translucent is the membrane between
the Living and the Dead. We who remain
must begin again. Tools to rebuild
our shattered world are forged from
what we've loved and lost. Sea
to shining sea, ten hundred thousand
bells resound like voices of our
Lost Companions urging us on. Above
village greens and steeples, temples
and American mosques, Souls
are rising in rebirth. Deepest waters
cool their burning and assuage
their thirst. A trembling world
asks "What love is left?" We
listen to the bells and say: "This
love: One nation, one People who
wear a sacred scar, in homage
and in sorrow, in memory and Liberty
this day and each tomorrow."