On Looking At Historical Photos Of The Hawke’s Bay 1931 Earthquake [Poem]

there is a desolate greyness

like these places have been

abandoned for many years and

have resigned to Mother Nature

reassigning their materials, rubble

like so many stones thrown carelessly

on the beach. the picturesque turned

upside down like a crumpled up

postcard, stairway banisters sloping

into the street like live telephone wires,

the earth swallowing cars and sheep whole

black and white like warzone footage,

like a silent film, everything frozen

in dusty stillness

sometimes there are people,

heads down, moving

working hard, lifting boards

tending to the injured

the woman under the

pile of bricks, the man with the

lamp pole through his thigh

pulling them out from under the signs

bearing proud names of industry

the street open like a fatal wound

children squinting their eyes

at the sun through the smoke

the chandelier from the front foyer

a shattered constellation in the

middle of the street

the dollhouse rooms of the hotel

after the walls have fallen away

the beds perfectly made.

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