Poet and short story writer Jan Kemp sent these Words for Christchurch to us from Germany.
i.m. Victims of the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ, 22nd February 2011
Tunisia, Egypt, Christchurch, Libya, Japan,
a month of revolutions & catastrophes each one occurring
as we revolve, a bit askew, on our wobbly axis round the sun.
Each one, none less our own than our own; & of the smallest
we each know of a particular someone: we, a small
population, close-knit, here in this ‘far-pitched … hostile place …
fixed at the friendless outer edge of space’,
[Sonnet of Brotherhood, R.A.K. Mason]
someone whose name was on the missed list,
someone whose house was smash-hit or now red-ticketed for demolition,
someone the rescuers in Day-Glo-orange and hard hats
putting themselves on the line couldn’t helicopter out
from an upper floor, a punched-out window or find under
slabs of concrete and bricks that once clad the sides
of Durham & Colombo Streets. Like young city fathers,
the new skyscrapers among their nineteenth century
re-facaded elders, all now steel girders & plates & shards
made giant spilled Meccano, as if after a bomb had dropped –
the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächntis-Kirche in Berlin with its still-broken spire
left as a remembrance, a new one built no higher, from the ground up.
Will we leave Christchurch Cathedral’s spire as rubble or rebuild it
too as a sign, like the words: Monte Cassino, Gallipoli, Anzac, signs of what
we feel is and was our innocence abroad, whether or not the disaster
was human-caused or of natural force beyond control?
Who can take on Ruaumoko stirred up to such fury, striking at random to vent internal wrath
from our planet’s core even an earthquake god cannot be blamed for?
‘Perilous’, precious, this life, these lives, these deaths for which
we now all gather under the sky’s great cloak to mourn.
Jan Kemp MNZM, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany, Sunday 13 March 2011