RANDOM NUMBERS



      Christchurch, where I live, on
the last rock until Antarctica, New Zealand,
             Ring of Fire, has in six years
endured eleven-thousand shudders
from minor palsies to full-blown seizures.

             I’ve undergone most of them
including the infamous Big Ones nearly
a year apart, that tangled the roads
into Gordian knots (we’re still short
on Alexanders),
                             erased office blocks
and Neo-gothic churches, one hundred
             and eighty-five dead, leaving
gap-toothed lacunae that the city-brain
           must reconnect around, fill in
with fragments even as they fall to dust.

I begin every morning’s pain-points
with an anxiety attack to remind myself
I’m still alive.

One hundred and two miles south
my mother,
     sits in her chair.

                                    A mother
is a careless thing to lose, much like a city.
I miss her so much even though I can
still pick up the phone and dial,

                                         her memories
ablating quick-time in dog years
peeling off like onion skins, leaving
          yawning lacunae,

                                but she isn’t a city.
It’s more like she’s on a raft
drifting incrementally further into
a distant fogbank and it’s constantly
          becoming harder
to shout loud enough for either of us
                                     to hear the other.

The fear that one day she might not know me
                         is orders of magnitude
       greater than any existential dread
of being felled by a falling chimney

                                           or the ground
          swallowing me up like Curtius in the Forum.

All of us are being hunted down by
            arbitrary happenstance
                                           whether it’s
tucked up in a fault line, hunkered up
       in a clock tower ticking down or
some genomic Schrödinger’s Cat that
   may or may not be lurking in your
             Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid
       waiting to ambush.

                                    Being is the ultimate
    Faustian bargain, a crap shoot with
dice loaded in the other bastards favour

but bloody hell we love it

more than the alternative.

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