Saturday, September 4, 2010


Day of the Quake

It shakes her voice as she tells me
the course will be cancelled, people
will be reached, a new date scheduled.

I imagine those sheer scarps shuddering
the darkness at 4:35 am, disorientation
fear, the getting out, getting into the street.

It shakes out all the carefully nurtured certainties.
And has a tsunami broken the news all along
the eastern coast? To Pacific Islands, already sinking?

The train I'm on in Auckland sings a high-pitched
worker's whistle. I sing along, back in my throat
wary of other travellers' views of good behaviour.

Every suburb has its extinct volcano, once a pa,
now remembered for more recent explosions
of a territorial kind. Green, lumpy, they preside.

Always the ground shifts under our feet
unexpected, unwanted, unsettling. The train
is driven by diesel, from the back. We rock.

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