Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

Wound: A poem for Sept. 11

Leanne Grabel's poem, written two days after the terrorist attacks, captures the trauma and grief.



I told my new therapist
who was concerned I was not feeling
the tremendous storms of grief, the
bolts of grief
the spate, the jolt
the coats of grief

I woke up early every morning
made a short stack of buckwheat pancakes for
the wolves of fear and sat an hour
flat against the hardbacked wooden chair
first cold then hot then cold
my legs folded under like paperclips.

I sat there staring at the pictures in the New York Times
with the surprising catchy headlines
all those pretty women with their messy ponytails
holding photos of their lovely men (now dust)
in their graceful pale-nailed hands like
flags of surrender.

            Cried I told her. Cry.
           Just cry and cry. 
            My knees are screaming for relief.
            I made immediate plans for yoga. 

My new therapist smiled warmly with her
ample, crooked mouth. Then she
adjusted her sagging stomach
and said she was glad that I’d been crying.
Next time I’m going to have to tell her
I've been crying this way for years


Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon

the tears
embedded in a sad and ancient code.
Still God, My God! 
This time we really did it
Etched the membrane
set the branding.

You see it on the faces of the children.
Four-year-olds like scarecrows
stiffened ankles sprouting out their little shoes.
The babies jerk at every movement.  
Even men are crying.
Have you seen how men are crying?

I told her I'd reached a point where
only seconds could I actually feel each day
or I might burn
and die like them
to dust to dust
by the horrible weight of it.
I told her I was feeling strong at first and
shouldered quite a bulk of it.
Then my tendons burned, my muscles screamed
my scalp grew tight. Oh

            Gandhi, can you hear me?
            Gandhi, can you hear me???


  • Portland poet Leanne Grabel wrote Wound on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington., D.C. It is republished here, twenty years after the attacks, by permission.

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

Leanne Grabel is considering going back to writing poems on the page; in other words, simplifying. Her latest performance (& chapbook & postcards & posters) was “Old With Jokes,” performed at the Eastside Jewish Commons as part of ArtLab 2023. She is currently teaching flash memoir at Menucha Arts Center and Silverton Arts Center. She has books: Most recently, her collaboration with filmmaker Penny Allen This Rescue Thing (Penny wrote the novel, Leanne illustrated it) will be published by The Opiate Press in 2024. www.leannegrabel.com

Triangle Productions presents Eleanor starring Margie Boule Portland Oregon
Pacific Maritime Heritage Center Prosperity of the Sea Lincoln County Historical Society Newport Oregon Coast
Newport Performance and Visual Arts Centers Newport Oregon Coast
Chamber Music Northwest Beethoven's Complete Piano Trios The Old Church Portland Oregon
City of Hillsboro Walters Cultural Arts Center She's Speaking Live! Hillsboro Oregon
Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series Willamette University Salem Oregon
Portland State University College of Arts William Shakespeare Measure for Measure PSU Portland Oregon
Portland Chamber Orchestra Young Artist Competition University of Portland Free Event Portland Oregon
Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon
Portland Art Museum Virtual Sneakers to Cutting Edge Kicks Portland Oregon
Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon
Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
White Bird Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon
Northwest Dance Project Sarah Slipper Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
Corrib Theatre Contemporary Irish Theatre Portland Oregon
Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington
High Desert Museum Sasquatch Central Oregon
Oregon Cultural Trust donate
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.