Words for Christchurch: Kevin Ireland

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.

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