Monday, September 11, 2006

2996: Contours of Courage

Francisco Miguel (Frank) Mancini
age 26
died at WTC 9/11/01

Your name was Frank Mancini. I never knew you; nor anyone who did. Yet I have been touched by your life as surely as if I’d met you face to face.

All I know of you is found on this page established as a memorial to you after your life was taken--one of nearly three-thousand--in that great wounding of our nation, our world, on September 11, 2001.

On this page, from a few messages left by friends and family and a single photo with a caption relating your status as confirmed dead at the WTC at age twenty-six, I gleaned this much:

Your life was a thread woven into the fabric of your communities--family, neighborhood, church, workplace, city, nation--a thread cut too soon. But in that short span the fiber of your character lent its strength to each thread that your thread touched. For as son, brother, grandson, nephew, uncle, parishioner, student, father, husband, friend, colleague, citizen, mentor and neighbor you entwined your thread with many others and in that way you live on in the life of your communities as they continue to weave their many threads into the futures. A future that will be what it will be because you were who you were--which was a man of generous vitality and zest for life with an integrity of spirit that first revealed itself on the grade-school playground.

All of this I know from the messages left for you on that page. I learned more from many hours of gazing at your photo until I began to viscerally understand the belief of some primitive cultures that photography steals pieces of your soul. It began with the simple impulse to smile in response to your smile and progressed to the sense that you were about to speak to me and then became this all-suffusing sense of wordless communing with something much more than photons on my computer screen. Once I was amazed to discover my cheeks wet with tears and realize that I was grieving your loss as one who had known you.

Was it just my imagination? I am a fiction writer after all and often have such ‘encounters’ with characters I have created. Maybe. But does it matter? Either way, my encounter with your story has woven your thread with mine, lending its strength and integrity to the fabric of my life. In gratitude, I offer to you and your communities the following poem inspired by that long gazing at your photo:

Contours of Courage

In your face I see
The contours of courage--
A nose pointed towards
A future trusted to be
Worthy of your hope;
A chin thrust forward
With confidant grace;
Cheeks that must have been
Offered in trust to the
Caresses and kisses
Of mother, grandmother,
Wife, daughter, friends…
Eyes aglow with abundant
Kindness, witnessing
A willingness to give
From the well of your
Being without calculation;
Lips curved in humor
Testify to a sustainable
Joy in life and its
Grounding faith, without
Which such joy would be
As flashes of lightning
Extinguished in the
Moments of their birth
And humor would dry
Up in the face of absurdity.

4 tell me a story:

Rey 9/11/2006 3:16 AM  

that's a touching tribute.

I remember too... Even if i'm not there.

Anonymous,  9/11/2006 6:30 AM  

Oh wow, Joy. That was truly touching. The poem ... wow. A fitting end to an innocent life.

Ghost 9/12/2006 4:40 AM  

So lovingly and beautifully written.

Mrs. Who 9/11/2011 10:41 AM  

Thank you for taking the time to remember...

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