What Holds: a poem in honour of Fr Mychal Judge and all first responders on 9/11

A work by Jessica Traynor commissioned by Consulate General of Ireland in New York


Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love? – Father Mychal Judge

It’s September.
Life tilts towards equinox,
ushers us towards nightfall.
When girders fold like paper,
when glass evaporates,
and the road cracks its jaws,
whose hands still clasp?
What voice calling, faint,
through choking dust
finds the right ear?
When it gets dark,
consider what still holds –
the way gum loves a bus seat,
cat fur a funeral suit,
how rhizomes weave
blind webs to cradle earth.
Against what odds do atoms
conspire to keep us afloat
in a world where
the surfaces we trust
betray us again and again?
And against what odds
do we meet here,
with our thin skins
and fragile bones,
to ask each other this?

Commissioned by the Consulate General of Ireland in New York in honour of Father Mychal Judge and all first responders, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11