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Under a Concrete Gray Sky

Updated on September 18, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


Under a concrete gray sky,

raining ashes and debris,

in this darkest of days,

one woman makes her stand

She sees the island

covered in ash.

She sees the pit

still smoldering

where the mighty towers

once stood.

She sees the people,

of this grand metropolis

on a tiny island,

coming together

in this time of sorrow.

They carry portraits

of their friends, families,

or lovers,

some on flyers,

some on posters


She sees them walking in silence,

eyes cast to the ground

revealing the wounds

only the loss of hope can bring.

She shutters

seeing the woman with

the portrait of her missing husband

hanging around her neck

like the albatross

worn by the Mariner.

She mourns

with those who placed

their loved one’s image

on the blue-tarp fence

of the Wall of Tears

which separates these people

and their waning hopes

from the reality

of Ground Zero.

She hears the city cry

blackened and bruised

by an evil not seen

on these shores.

But tears she will not shed.

She can’t let this city –

she can’t let the nation -

see her cry.


So she makes her stand

on this darkest of days

and raises the flame of liberty

which cuts through the concrete sky

for all to see.

She’ll be their strength

she’ll be their justice

most of all,

as she gazes upon

the shattered City,

she’ll be their hope.

Once, she lifted her lamp beside the “golden door!”

now, she lifts it high to remind all.

That even in this darkest of days

hope will always be there.

“Hope?” Many will say on this day.

When looking for answers

To the horrors on that Tuesday

in September.

“Hope,” She answers


Statue of Liberty on that fateful day.  From:
Statue of Liberty on that fateful day. From:

The Woman and the Portrait

It's obvious what the backdrop of this poem is. However, the inspiration came from a moment that happened a few days after 9/11 attacks. A news crew found a woman walking the streets near Ground Zero, carrying a portrait of her husband. The man in the picture was missing. The woman held out hope that somebody may have seen him.

Although she stated that she held out hope that she would find him alive, the 1000-yard stare gave away her sense of dread that her husband wasn't coming home. Still, she ventured by the Wall of Tears -- a makeshift fence that was draped with A blue tarp where family of the victims placed "missing" posters. She also went by the nearby hospitals and shelters in search of her missing husband.

It's unknown if she ever found him. However, she presented a powerful image that left and indelible mark. For years, I've attempted to write something about her. Eventually I settled for mentioning her in this poem ("like the albatross around the neck of the Mariner").

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Dean Traylor


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