I am kiwi born, the massacre of families in a Christchurch Mosque reached deep into my childSelf that still retains vestiges of innocence. I thought about the freedoms I was privy to, wandering the streets on foot and bike, disappearing for hours with mates ,challenging our bodies and the neighbourhood. The only significant tragic event I could recall was the sinking of the Interisland ferry Wahine in Wellington Harbour in 1968 . A doosy of a storm that sent us home from school before it even started , of power cuts, ferocious winds and lashing rains. A tree crashed onto my bedroom window bringing the fence down with it but not breaking the glass. Dad clung to a ladder with hammer and nails in an attempt to keep the roof on the carport. Mum and I huddled together under blankets with my little transistor radio listening … many things went wrong for the Wahine that day when it met Cyclone Giselle and another stormfront at the entrance to Wellington harbour. The radar was disabled, it hit Barrett Reef, the starboard propeller broke, the hull got a hole, the port engine stopped and not all life boats could be utilised- 51 people died as a result.
The sweet time of innocence and the brutality of the world I live in today, this I am grappling with – Paradise lost . In March of this year at two mosques in Christchurch as a result of human hatred and blame 51 people have died. Our poetry group held a vigil at Well Thumbed Bookshop, Cobargo and these two poems are my attempt ……
We are the same
Who claims to not know hatred?
to be all love and light,
who does not know the taste of hates dark arrows
or felt the spiked tongue of revenge.
Our confusion is many layered,
we cannot comprehend this heinous act
this violent crime,
shocked beyond comfort
silenced by despair
families are murdered
while in sacred prayer.
We struggle to understand
thrash around for probable cause
seeking blame and explanation
reviewing history policy and laws.
We are the same
you and I
you with your black face
your squint eye
your head scarf
your tats and piercings
your gender changes,
you with your faith
you, all of you
we are same same .
Blood flows thru my veins as yours
we are born of Earth and return to Earth,
we breathe the same air,
we had mothers, fathers and cousins
milk teeth and porridge,
the same Sun looks down upon you as me
the same Stars light up our night sky and
the Wind comes for everybody.
you that has fostered hostility in your heart
cultivated malice in your mind,
you that dared to use your god given hands
to tear apart precious lives
you cannot be the same.
Mercy is not for you
we have much in common
this is true
this vicious deed.
You are dead to us now
you extinguished your light
discarded your humanity
your kinship to us.
We turn our backs on you
open our hearts
to a community in mourning,
for all the lives ripped apart
we offer comfort and healing love.
there is no solace for you
because while hatred may visit we choose to desist,
we choose to care, to love and to hope,
we choose to Not Act with malicious intent
to not ever forget
that we are all kindness and all love.
A stone thrown
One beautiful Friday
in a summer season beside the river Avon
when heads are bowed in devotion
and children dressed in their Sunday best
an evil appears and lives are taken.
Inside the mosque, a holy place
the community has come to pray
a walking nightmare holding a gun
shoots again again and again
blood, broken bodies and screams fracture the sacred day.
A stone thrown casts ripples in the pond
forcing us to confront the baseline of our kind,
the vindictive beast of hatred
festering in hearts carved with malevolent intent,
a long dark shadow spreads over Aotearoa and beyond.
Is forgiveness even possible?
this act paralysed our compassion
cast doubt upon empathy
cracked our hearts
eroded peace of mind
interfered with understanding
and uncomfortably reminded us
that some people
do not care for the children as we do.
The stone thrown casts ripples
this atrocity repeated
in many lands by evil hands
and we wonder how we can make this better?
And so we pray,
we pray that all people return to Honour and Respect
to Loving Kindness and Good Intentions.
we reclaim our humanity
reforge our Love
and rekindle the Flame of Divine Light within us all.