Two earthquake pieces from Alastair Crawford….

“Quaked”
What matters is love, Prince William says at the memorial service, and tells us his Grandmother said “grief is the price we pay for love.” Three weeks earlier, in a matter of minutes, the dust cloud rose and hovered above the city, a ghost of the mortar. The mortar had mattered a lot. The bricks had mattered over many years to a lot of people who lived or worked in the little rooms of those buildings, to our grandmothers for example who bought stamps and sent parcels there, within the quaint wood panelling that can’t be built these days, but they mattered more recently to those who had re-used the buildings, old government post offices used as video outlets mattered, the warehouses as art galleries mattered, so did the street front dairies and shops used as homes, the fancy stone facades mattered, where our Grandmothers went to shop for boots and laces, and later our girlfriends for trainers and levis. People say the whole heritage fabric mattered, “Fab Brick” as the real estate might have said, “really matters”. Dreams matter too. People dream of a new city where cycle lanes and tree lined streets matter, and they think what matters is solar powered and heat retained buildings, but the dreamers forget the city is owned. The owners matter and sometimes even the owners are owned, by the banks, and for them both, the rentable square feet of office space matters, and time frame matters. Owning a section matters as well as owning a building, owning a future matters, and a dream, and great ideas and as Prince William reminds what matters is love.

Sick Threat

First the sudden sharp shudders as the floor comes again again up
down up to hammer and bash the building’s lights out.

Then, in the moment just before we hear the windows hit the ground,
the screams of women. Then the glass’s tinkling smash

and during that the cracking concrete and wrenching steel and splintering wood.
Then later the trembles, the ground like a water-filled balloon,

Then the slight swaying and sickening imbalance
like a starved body unable to support the head
And threatening to smash the lights out again.


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