Memorial (22 February 2011)

Tusiata Avia writes a poem in remembrance of the Christchurch earthquakes 10 years on.

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The quake families sit in rows and rows and rows
we stand by them, we cuddle each other
the flags flutter: Japan, Israel, Canada, UK, USA
and ones we’ll have to Google later.
We sit under the sky, no walls
no roofs, we will be safe here.

The kaikaranga calls
Jacinda walks the aisle like a bride in black
our hearts skip and our cameras shake
red petals, black petals, dust and bone and concrete petals.

Karanga mai ra
the dead are close
they have come from Hawaiki Nui
the grieving are the silent sea, the river Avon runs
it trickles down our cheeks.

The waka has returned
HNZM sits in the harbour of our moana
as she sat there ten years ago
all the sea is made of tears.
The Japanese families cannot be here
we cry into our masks for them.

It was 20 seconds that changed us
20 seconds that killed us
185 the dead
95% was avoidable.
Some of us know this
and it flips and flips
like the ika in the Avon
sick and struggling through the waters.

Yes, we are still sad
and tired and anxious
us and our kids.
My 3 year old is 13 now
she looks at me through eyes
of the rebuild generation
the trauma generation.

Army bands make us cry
Speeches make us cry
95% makes us cry
Flags make us cry
Japan makes us cry
The women in wheelchairs make us cry
The turn to Oi Manawa makes us cry
The ship’s bell makes us cry
12.51pm makes us cry
185 dead make us cry

their names
their names
their names
their names
our tears clouding the sun.