Friday, January 6, 2012

"Love falls down and covers the people"

I'd meant to blog this much earlier, of course; put it down to what in the local vernacular is called "quake brain", a state of mind in which things are misplaced, forgotten, fall off the back of the desk, dry up, falter, and generally slip through your fingers. Quake brain (I loathe this and other chummy cliched coinings around Christchurch's natural disaster, but it's an accurate description, and I don't have other words for it) is a bit like that strange fog you experience in the first days and weeks after a baby is born, when shock and exhaustion and a new hypervigilance renders you temporarily a spectator in the world rather than a participant. You are out of sorts with the world; you have misplaced your agency; you sit, and wait, and watch, while around you the current of history keeps moving. I imagine "quake brain" is a modern term for a very old thing.

What I missed, in the fog and dust of the past few months, is a desire to publicly acknowledge a series of beautiful collaborations arising from the inclusion of my daughter's story 'This is about earthquakes' in the literature category for the annual Mix and Mash competition. I was very much moved both by the inclusion of the text by organisers Pip Adam and Fiona Rigby, and by the new works which were created as a result, inspired in part by my daughter's experience of the February earthquake in Christchurch.

Here are some of the remixed works derived from 'This is about earthquakes', with a short excerpt under each link:

Hera Bird's prose poem 'The Mountain' (from which the title of this post is, in turn, drawn):
"We want to believe that love will keep us safe. But love will not keep us safe. Love has no central nervous system. Love looks like it's wearing a white hat. The mountain is covered with love."

Megan Clayton's poem 'Untitled (This is about earthquakes)':

And Brooke Phelan's delightful illustrations:

Click through on the links above to read the new works. And you can read more entries in the literature category of Mix and Mash here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Small bang theory

"If Daddy did a massive fart, and you lit it with a match, then BOOM! There'd be a new sun."

The small guy explains the formation of the universe.

(How uncouth.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Daisy Boat

On a walk to Mona Vale last year, my three-year-old daughter made a sculpture. It was a few days after the big earthquake in June, and it was the first time we'd been out for a long walk. For a while, afterwards, you need to stay close to home. Immediately after a big earthquake, when the windows have stopped rattling and the ground is still again you hold the children close, and move around the house in a body. Your chest is tight and your breath is shallow and you stiffen when a truck rumbles past. Gradually the invisible ropes slacken, and you can bear for a child to be in one room while you're in another, or downstairs while you're upstairs, or even out in the garden while you're in the house. Gradually you stop expecting that at any minute there will be another earthquake.

At Mona Vale in June we sat on a bench in the weak winter sun, and watched army helicopters fly back and forth overhead. My daughter picked daisies and piled them on a leaf. We threw bread to the ducks. Purple crocuses were coming up under the oak trees. The ground had spread by the river, and muddy gouges seared the lawns. A minibus disgorged a party of Japanese tourists, who stood on the cracked driveway, blinking, and got out their cameras.

When we left, we floated the daisy boat in the river and watched the current take it.

May 2012 be less historic than 2011.