Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A tap on the door.
Elle is here! Her name is Eugenia
from Samoa two years ago.
She's not always on this floor
so it wasn't her, those Elles,
moving my pyjamas round.

Four days off, she says
I'm having an exam on Friday
doing a Masters in Business
Management. Stripping my bed
swift and precise, flinging
cushions onto a top shelf.

She came here with family
before the tsunami. Before.
"But my husband, he went back,
for work, he was a victim of it."
I watch her sweeping the sheet
repeatedly across the mattress.

Uncle and his family went too
but didn't help. "My husband
was sleeping in a beach hut.
They saw the water disappear
they saw the wave, a great claw.
He ran for the car, but before

he could open the door
the wave slammed him against it.
He was lifted, thrown, up
the mountain - some small
mountains there - he grabbed
a tree with one hand, hung there.

Two days later he was found
in a pickup tray, naked. They
thought he was dead. Three
          broken          ribs
a broken arm, gashes all up
his back. She stops. Breathes.

He was there with all the dead
people! And his uncle didn't help!
His sisters hate the uncle now.
Me too. A Hercules brought him
home; he still has physio.
Red Cross paid phone calls, hospital.

The second wave was worse, he said.
Like an ice block. He saw bodies
without heads, limbs, floating
out to sea. He himself ended up
buried in building rubble, a tiny
pinpoint of light above him. Lost!"

The bed is done with hospital corners
tight-tucked, flat, fresh and pushed
against the wall. She hasn't smiled,
she's not bitter. "I was a CEO back home,
she says, an accountant. Are you sure
there is nothing else I can do for you?"

More trauma:
This bloke Plimmer built an ark
out of a wrecked ship, the Inconstant.
The shore there was messy -
eight point two on the Richter Scale
and the coast had risen a metre
giving pioneers a lot more mud
to run iron wheels through
and a place to eventually
build a museum.
We walk there (when gales are slow-paced)
sure that the earth has now settled on
a design for the next century and a half.
We prefer not to think
of Earth's crust's inconstancy.

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