Special Issue - Nine Eleven

Nine Eleven. Writers Respond

We Are Fragile

By Molly Swan-Sheeran

We are fragile,
     like a tiny clamshell
          bourne out on the water
               floating boat-like
          the water slightly higher than 
               sea level
     around the thin, nacreous edges.
We are fragile,
     we humans,
          and it tugs at us to
               let go of old clothes, old letters,
                    half-spoiled food,
               and brittle, tan-edged writing paper.
Careful, careful,
     we go forth from our beds
          each morning.
Watchful, waiting,
     we gauge the moods
     of other humans.
"I wonder what he meant by that?"
We are fragile,
     and like sentient crystal goblets
          tissue-swathed in a box,
     it behooves us to move gently,
     to ting and ding in a soft, slow meter,
     to be vigilant against chipping,
     either ourselves or our fellows,
     by carelessness or haste.

     And when we are unwrapped
     and filled with bubbly,
     a gentle finger run round the rim
          will not be cut,
      but will bring forth from each
          its separate tone.

     And when all tones are sounded
          in harmony
     our fragile selves will sing together
          in strength.

© 2001 Molly Swan-Sheeran