What We Do With Words

I don’t know where to start.

In September, I wrote this post about the quake that occurred then, so devastating, but not deadly.

That was heart-wrenching; this is so much worse.

When I saw the photograph of the Cathedral spire as rubble in the square I realised, relieved, that none of this was real. I have vivid dreams, sometimes of terrible things. This wasn’t happening, because the spire would never fall.

I don’t get to wake up from this.

I can’t watch the news any more. I can’t even turn on the TV. Too many journalists intoning solemnly about the utter devastation, chasing rescue workers for reports, making graceless statements by blanketed bodies. I reload the Stuff.co.nz latest quake info page instead. Text is easier. Words have more grace.

My housemates ask if I’ve heard from all my friends; my Melbourne friends text me to make sure I’m okay; my international friends send email and IMs and all their love.

I wrote; I wrote a lot. I sent books I’d packaged up to donate to Queensland, to the sodden libraries there. I kept a package back. I think Christchurch will need books too.

I went to the cafe to buy a brownie, and the TV there announced that 65 were confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise. I went to the osteopath and he talked about how his wife’s aunt is coming over from Christchurch with her husband and their whanau, how all they wanted to do was get out of the city.

The broken, broken city.

I listen to music, I answer email, I work on a proposal. I look at temp listings, I consider freelance applications. I check twitter and facebook and in my mental list, I put check marks beside my friends’ names and cross marks beside their houses.

The spire came down, and there were people inside it. The spire came down, and there were people underneath.

Christchurch is the city of my heart, and the heart of the city is gone.

I don’t know where to finish either.

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