Acclaimed poet and novelist Kevin Ireland wrote these Words for Christchurch.
A house in Christchurch
The whole house fell around him.
First the books were flung across
the room, then the shelves splintered
and ripped apart. That’s what
he now remembers. A whole library
flying at him, to the thunder and slams
and hammers of hell. The quake had him
on strings as it jigged him outside
where next he watched windows, walls
and chimneys sway, split and pitch.
The curious thing is that for a moment
he saw the house take off into the sky
on a choking updraft of dust.
It seemed to levitate before
miraculously recasting itself as debris.
Cities are built to become
the rubble of another age.
As a connoisseur of ruins he comprehends
inexorable truth, yet he will never
bring himself to see why his house
should be among the first to go
or how his neighbours had to die.
He has always accepted that civilisations
have an end. But when
he was in Ephesus he did not witness
the old and gorgeous houses
being torn apart by devils
in veils of dust. He looked everywhere,
but did not see one brick topple
or a single book take flight.
- Find works by Kevin Ireland in the library catalogue
- Read more about Kevin Ireland on the New Zealand Book Council website