Category Archives: Loss

Forget everything

red zone river

(Image: Iain McGregor)

 

The land was empty,
alone,
bereft of the world
that once occupied her,
was she mourning
for the lost sounds
of children’s
hearts and feet,
pounding to the beat
of their laughter, lives
and freedom?

A no-man’s land,
mile after mile of barren
green, of do-not-enter, no
unauthorized access, of long,
stripped harakeke clumps
and a naked river
that mends its way along
cracked roads
and blocked off streets
with names
that used to belong
on google maps,
but now when you look
all it says is
forget everything.

Forget what breathed
and flourished here,
the barking dogs and
sleeping cats, the
gossiping neighbours
and lifelong friends
sharing food
and love and stories,
their water, porta-loos
and their breaking, aching
exhausted hearts.

Forget how the earth
shook and cracked
and ripped apart,
once, twice and
5000 more times until
you can forget
no longer, for the shaking
earth lives here
in your bones now.

Her core is buried deep
in yours, like a ghost
and a vampire, she haunts
your nights, and treads
lightly through your days,
at your side, ready to pounce
and steal
your breath,
when your children are too far
and the building is too high,
and there are too many
people between you
and the exits and in this
new city there are too many
buildings that could come down
and even though
the shaking ground
was only a bus rumbling
past, your body will
never forget. And you wonder,
you wonder,

is this what it means
to grow up
and out and in and
through, to be pierced
by loss and life so that
your body is marked
by the world,
holds and becomes the world
and it is all the same,
the world and you,
maybe there was never meant to be any
forgetting,
maybe that
is the whole point?

I want to write about you

I want to write about you
so I don’t forget you.

I want to remember the grains of our shared life 
before the tide washes over them 

and I can no longer hold them in my hand
or hear them in my heart.

I want to speak about 
something, anything, that 

brings you nearer,
back to life, maybe.

Even the times you hurt me
in ways big brothers do,
like the time you told me

to stick the knife in the toaster,
when it was on, and I obeyed,
in ways little sisters do.

Or the time you shot me
with paper bullets from an air rifle,

you wondered if they would work,
my bruise, the colour of rain clouds,
satisfied your curiosity.

Or the way you recognized an ally
in me, the first time 
your heart was broken.

I want to hold these pieces of us,
and a thousand more,

in a sacred place 
so that your dying, so that
us never speaking of them again –

of growing up as only we did, 
doesn’t mean it never was, or
that we never were.

Some days

Some days 
it feels like
she is the open wound
of the earth,
red raw and bleeding,
washed over and over
by the salty sting
of falling rain.

Cut, grazed and bruised
by a universal pain
that takes a child 
from its mother
or a father from his sons
before they have barely
begun
to talk about this life.

Some days
she doesn’t know how 
to stop 
the bleeding, or
tend the wound
or how 
to pretend anymore
it doesn’t hurt.

Some days
it is all she can do
to butter the bread
put on a smile,
fall into bed,
and practice being
grateful
for it all.

22 February

20120225-141011.jpg
Today, a city remembers.
Solitary flowers rise
from old road-worthy vases,
a sign now of hope, or
new direction, perhaps,
like a Phoenix rising
from the ashes.

Today, a city remembers,
enveloped in a sombre shadow,
like the choking dust
of that fateful day
one year ago.

Today, a city remembers,
it is as if time has stood still,
or the year that has been
is rewound, like a clock.
To return us
(as only anniversaries can)
to the place,
and the time where we stood,
when the earth shook
us into terror
and despair.

Today a city remembers
185 departed souls.
The cicadas shrill
their song, while the shrouded sun
is in mourning, too.
Balloons and butterflies,
red, black, and orange,
are surrendered skyward,
released,
from one place
into the forever unknown.

Pop-up mall

Pretty pop-ups belie
battered buildings beyond
the wire mesh.

Cracked pavement stones
offer new homes to flourishing weeds.

Sweet aromas of coffee, souvlaki, and life
almost obscure the pungent stench
of dust, grit and death.

Journeys home – small stone Jan 28

The car snakes round bend after bend
to travel the long journey home.

Grief sidles up to me, like a thief in the night
to steal my breath, and the present moment.

Through the rear-view mirror, time is displaced
as brother and sister become my brother and I.

Like Russian dolls, each generation
a reflection of the last.

I wonder, when is it written 
upon our hearts, or our souls
the time we will depart this world?

Brother – Jan 13 Small stone

I see you no longer,
but I see you so clearly
etched in the bodies
of your sons.