|Photo Credits: Andrew M. Bell|
Not for us the swift savagery of the strafing jet
or the murderous melée of missiles,
but the slow and steady creep
of ignorance and neglect.
While an empire rises inexorably
from the Central Business District,
the small voices of the poor and vulnerable
cry out unheard.
The 92-year-old widow has her third hospitalising
bout of pneumonia in the third winter since
Rūamoko shook himself enthusiastically,
like a dog emerging from the Avon river.
“I just want my home fixed before I die,” she says.
Not much to ask for
like peace in Syria.
by Andrew M. Bell
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this poem, as the text indicates, three years after the Christchurch earthquake of February 2011. As has been well-documented, this natural disaster devastated large swathes of Christchurch city central and surrounding suburbs, particularly those suburbs in the eastern part of Christchurch where the least economically-advantaged residents lived. It has taken many, many years to return to any sort of normality, but, even 9 years after that disaster, there are still buildings and areas of land that bear the scars rendered on that day. The above photographs are of a building, not far from my home, that was badly damaged and sits neglected, across the road from a beach simply called North Beach (goodness knows how many beaches around the globe are so prosaically named). Some vandal or vandals have recently gutted this building by setting a fire.
It occurs to me that this global Covid-19 pandemic has brought back to the residents of east Christchurch a strange echo of the eerie, post-earthquake surreality that coloured our lives 9 years ago.
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