Monday, March 14, 2011


i know it's been a few days, and my thoughts on the disaster in Japan ought to have faded and receded into the background. but i can't shake it. it feels like a palpable...compression... erg. i'm having a hard time finding the words. 
it's not that i feel any sense of impending doom. though devastation could strike at any time, it's not so much a looming fear that i'm struggling so much with, as it is a sort of... density. as though there is something hovering just overhead where before there was only open space... 
i had thought of it as a kind of shadow. grief can sometimes follow you around in that way, coloring things grey, and cold.

this isn't quite that. but close, perhaps.

i keep seeing it in my head. over and over, the shaking, the buildings swaying, the crumbling and groaning and clattering of a city, a coastline, shivering to bits. and then the water. the impossibly tall wall of ocean barreling toward the island, the crash of it, the all-encompassing, all-devouring mass of the sea pushing its way across the face of a nation. indifferent, merciless, indomitable.

i saw This Video recently. it was showed on japanese news but not here. watch to the end, it's a little long, but it was unutterably powerful to watch how quickly the water rose in this place. carrying first debris, then cars and trucks and buses and boats, and eventually houses and buildings as though they were toys in a bathtub. 

i keep wondering what people are doing there now. right now. in this moment. how are they living? what are they eating? what about the children? the lost? and because i have no direct acquaintance there, and no face to put in my thoughts, and because it's difficult to think of a tragedy of this magnitude in terms of EVERYONE without simultaneously making it less human, i've invented someone. her name is Kamiko. she's a young mother, and also a student at the university. she has two children, but one was pinned under the garage roof when the earthquake struck. she was home alone, and unable to get him out before the water came. her home was lost. she has not heard word of her husband. her parents lived in Sendai with her grandmother, and she has been trying to find a way to get there. her baby daughter, just a year old, is with her. it is 7am there. what is she doing now? what is she feeling? where will she go and how will her life unfold now... after this...

maybe it's just the inner narrator that makes me think of things this way, but among the tens of thousands affected by friday's quake, and by the tsunami that followed hard on its heels... and by the nuclear situation that is still going on, and now volcanic activity, there are thousands of stories such as Kamiko's. 

i wish i could fly there and find her and bring her and the baby home with me. i wish i could do more than donate a few spare dollars. i wish... 

but as i cannot, i will pray. i will be aware of others outside the small circle of my life. i will do all i can to treasure the ones i love and make sure we are safe and prepared for what may come. and i will remember. 

and in case you haven't seen it, watch this video from guardian

 - shawnacy

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