In The Year of Monsters and Saints

This element opens a lightbox image gallery - A large plaque in Memorial Hall reads, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” The quote from Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid is surrounded by 2,983 individual blue tiles that comprise "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning,” an installation by Spencer Finch. Every square is a unique shade of blue, reflecting the artist's attempt to remember the color of the sky on the morning of 9/11 and commemorating the victims of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.

We all remember it differently.

Every single one of us who lived through September 11th carries a unique recollection of that day and the days that followed. Every story is written as a solo act, a voice in spotlighted thought fueled by the intensely personal effects that comprise our individual memories. These fingerprints lifted from our brains get pressed into the stories that breathe life back into the moments long since gone.

The artist Spencer Fitch solved the muddled enterprise of our collective brains on that Tuesday morning by creating a mosaic of cascading tiles whose possibilities run the gamut; from the heavens promised in those hours before hell was unleashed to the fear and hopelessness we walked through once the moments began spiraling into a murderous opera. He was commissioned by The National September 11 Memorial Museum and his work is comprised of 2,983 sheets of Fabriano Italian paper representing the victims of the 2001 and 1993 World Trade Center attacks.

So many of the stories we summon from that day begin with the prelude of a masterpiece playing out in the skies above. The sweeping plains danced cloudless as we went about our daily routines while monsters set about in stealth to rob us of the tomorrows we were busy taking for granted. Fitch’s testimonial reminds us that the sky didn’t belong to a single shade of blue on that morning but to a roaming blush of forever in its keep.

His work is titled Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning and it speaks to our collective remembrance of a day we will never forget. In the year of monsters and saints, these tiles belong to the heavens and to the hell and to all of the in between. It’s the sculpture of wounds that never heal and resiliency that never quits. It speaks to stars that were undermined by monsters and to the light provided by all the many saints who rushed in to steal what was left of us back from the darkness.

These tiles behave in much the same way as our memories; each one of them spilling its resonance into a dimensionality that remembers it all so differently and so very much the same. Each time we think back on the spiraling hours of that morning, we do so with the understanding that our lives belong to the quiet anarchy of the fates.

Twenty-one years does not change a thing for those of us who remember the day. Our faces still get flush with rain as we recall those shipwrecks in the sky. We still lose our breath as we share the memories of a day that ran away from us before it could find its legs. We still wince at how it was all replaced by a menacing eve whose midnight stirred inside of us like vespers dipped in mercury. We tell the stories of a sky transformed and the fall that went stillborn as the winter feasted. And it still feels as if the spring will never come as we get lost inside those moments all over again.

In my mind, I can feel the serene embrace of that plush roam of a sky that wrapped itself around us before getting lost to madness. When I close my eyes, I’m walking inside the morning that arrived too early and left too soon. And when I tell the stories of that day and month and year, I still mourn all the things we lost in the fire.

In the year of monsters and saints.

38 thoughts on “In The Year of Monsters and Saints

  1. B,

    This is that one anniversary that none of us can skip. You said it so very well. We all carry our unique perspective on that day, our reactions to them, our feelings. We remember what we were doing, and that it was such a beautiful day. Until.

    That mosaic is a perfect representation of our collective. And what a perfect title, too.

    Twenty-one years is reduced to yesterday. No matter how much we want it to dull, it will not.

    Only you could write this today in this manner.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re so humble not even mentioning you wrote a companion piece.

    And I so LOVE the title.

    Our faces still get flush with rain as we recall those shipwrecks in the sky. We still lose our breath as we share the memories of a day that ran away from us before it could find its legs,

    I’m so moved that I have nothing else to add. You contributed and then some.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I knew you would find your way here and I wanted it to be that way. Because your comment was the final push for me to write this piece today. As it should be.

      We found both on that day, didn’t we? And for the record, the saints far outnumbered the monsters. The human condition holds its own in the box score.

      Sharing this day with you SB, I feel less hopeless about everything. Its easier to find those better angels. In all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Marc,

    Like every American, I have my specific memories of that morning. Being at work watching the television in the grocery deli. Praying for daughter in law’s safety. She worked in the Trade Center. (A whole nuther story.) The relief we felt when we learned she’d escaped death by 15 minutes. Thank heaven she didn’t feel too well that morning and was running late. Then there’s the relief that flooded me when I learned my brother who worked in DC was also safe. He wasn’t in the Pentagon but I didn’t know how close his office was. Many other feelings and memories. Your beautiful piece covers a lot of territory in my mind. Well done.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Rochelle,

      You had and have quite the connection to that morning and that day! And yes, I think the country became one big church as the day went on. Prayers and solemnity, everywhere. A hush prevailed after the horrible storm.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Shalom and hugs,



  4. That day the world changed. It tore us apart and brought us together. I remember where I was, as so many do and I remember the word I said of the first plane. I was proven right. That day showed us horrors and heroes. Every time I see the clock hit 911 I want to cry. 21 years later it still hurts. I hope it never stops.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.