Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The outside of enough

My days are all the same:
every morning I have to summon,
against an erosion of spirit, the discipline
to confront the day’s routine.

I inhabit a sombre mood:
a Shostakovitch quartet,
with all four instruments playing
in the lower register of grief.

At the later stages of my life,
In the middle of the dark wood.
My only exit is death,
the cold silence of eternity.

The poem is obviously lying because my days are not all the same. This morning at 4.30am I was woken by a 7.1 earthquake centered about 30 miles from Christchurch and 7.5 miles underground. I live in a wooden house and they are very forgiving to earthquakes. This one happened in the dark but the last one was in daylight and I saw the walls bulge.
This morning in pitch dark I did not feel any movement at all, I just heard the most enormous creaking and in one of the many aftershocks, a shattering of glass which turned out to be two recycled wine glasses. Nothing else was broken and my chimneys remained intact.
What interests me is that I wasn’t in the least frightened. Yesterday evening I was quite caught up with watching the BBC version of Cranford. Between episodes I suddenly returned to the reality of myself. That was fear, a state of utter dereliction. But the earthquake did not phase me and very shortly afterwards there came a succession of neighbours, friends and carers checking me so I didn’t spend time alone in the dark worrying about what damage would greet my eyes at day break.
Christchurch itself has suffered extensively. Power is now mostly on but there will be considerable infrastructure issues with water and sewerage for several days and a massive rebuilding of facades of 19th century shops. It certainly was a big earthquake, but luckily no tsunami and so far no casualties.