She moved into a smaller flat
near town, less to clean, closer
to work, better surroundings.
For over thirty years she had
earned her living, brought up
her daughter, cared for her grandson.
Now in her fifties her body
is giving up its active life.
Her family’s genes puff up
her asthma, weaken her lungs
with increasing infections.
Her fading heart strains to
walk beyond our letterboxes,
she has to drive her little car
to hospital, doctor, supermarket.
So hard to lose her independence
have the chemist deliver her
prescriptions, neighbours put
our her recycling bin, weed
and prune her little garden.
But her family’s genes fade
out in their fifties.
Another ten years on the
sickness benefit until her
old age pension starts.
She cheerfully invited herself
to stay for my one week holiday
as I had done to her in the past..
She was recovering from a long
hospitalisation, looked forward
to a carefree holiday.
We explored my local region
on daily trips, enjoying cafes
under bright blue sunny skies.
On her last night she invited me
to dinner at a place I chose.
I knew she was thanking me
for a fantastic holiday week.
Our excellent meal lived up to
the restaurant’s reputation
both main course and desert.
Just before the final coffee
a ten ton broadside –
she pressed me hard to join
her now in her new church’s
worship, following Jesus.
I accept the right of others to
choose if and how they worship.
She does not allow me that right.
Having done what she came
to do she departed next day.
In youth her presence and
intelligence shone brightly
in her professional career
in her singing and playing
in local music groups
in her buzzing social life.
At 44 a rogue vein inside her
skull burst, its damage finally
repaired by eleven hours of surgery.
At length she slowly moved again
staggering, then tottering at
last walking more steadily.
Her brightness, her music evaporated,
she at last married the man in her life,
her rock for the next twenty years.
Now in her Christian church she
sought support for her unsteadiness.
At their urging she worked to
convert long time friends and family
to her church, both in town and
over long distance phone calls.
Each year they continue to refuse
her faith, her man has died.
Her calls become more pressing,
more despairing, pleading with
them to join her in Jesus,
to be together in heaven.
We have not joined her.
From an early age I feared
the dental clinic drill with its
high pitched scream bringing
piercing pain to my quaking tooth.
My loud howls and wriggling
displeased the head dental nurse
who brought my mother into the
room spoke sternly to us both.
From then we paid yearly visits
to Dad’s dentist with his huge
needles of local anaesthetic.
Less painful for me through more
pain for Dad’s besieged wallet.
In the twenty first century
new horrors have come forth.
A screen showing x-rays of my
heavily capped filled teeth.
Another screen showing video
of my mouth, with a view
of my fillings from above.
Australia New Zealand Army Corps
landed at Gelibolu on a little
Turkish peninsula in the Dardanelles
on 25 April 1915. They called it
Vast numbers of Australians and
New Zealanders died there under
Turkish gunfire obeying orders
from their British homeland.
Since 1923 on 25 April both
countries have commemorated their
war dead in all the wars since the
Boer war at little local memorials
to big city memorials with military
parades, returned servicemen, medals
bands, wreath laying, all at out
ANZAC Day services.
Now police say our red alert status
makes it unsafe to hold all our many
services. Our police can only guard
some services, we must go to larger
services guarded by armed police.
Many wanting to commemorate
their fallen ancestors at home
are deeply distressed.
White supremacist neo nazis, for so
long discounted, attacked us in
Christchurch seventy two years
after WW II. Will they return again ?
Refugees processed through Red
Cross, United Nations crossed our
vast ocean to this distant little
country seeking to live in freedom.
Among them, the first Muslims
to arrive here, their numbers
growing as their children were born.
Our active vocal racist minority
rejected them, attacking women
wearing hijabs, headscarves.
The Friday after the mosque
shootings, many non Muslim
women wore hijabs, headscarves,
bore the brunt of the racists’
poison, especially white women.
In a group interview a young
Muslim woman did not feel right
with hijabs worn for non religious
reasons. A middle aged Muslim
woman felt well supported by
many wearing headscarves, hijabs.
Another young Muslim woman
laughed, was happy for each woman
in the world to make her own choice
of headgear, welcomed the wearing
of it for any reason.
All three made their choices
freely, were appalled that
some women are compelled
to wear or not wear their
Muslim women’s headgear.
Friday afternoon 1.30 pm
Muslim prayer time at the mosque.
Impossible in the Christchurch
mosque with bullet riddled walls
carpets steeped in blood with
police collecting evidence from
floors, walls, the crime scene
tape closing off the mosque.
A week after the massacre Muslim
prayers must be in the park next
door to the shell shocked mosque.
Long tarpaulins in rows on the
grass, a vast rectangle setting
out a mosque under the sky.
Local Muslims are joined by others
from out of town, from overseas,
in worship led by imams from a
high platform, five thousand
Muslims worshipping together in
the park, televised nationwide.
Around them in a larger vast
rectangle many layers deep
fifteen thousand non Muslims
stand guard with armed police
against New Zealand’s neo nazi
white supremacist underbelly.
Circling New Zealand’s other
mosques at this prayer time other
non Muslims stand guard with police.
The silent majority must open
its eyes to our racism,
speak out against its horrors,
this poison in out midst.
He killed fifty, put forty two
in hospital for weeks,
brought deep trauma to hundreds
of distressed grieving people.
The law decrees he has a fair
trial, he demands it himself.
So strange, but it is happening.
The judge follows every exact
detail of our trial law.
From his secure prison at the
distant end of the country
the murderer attends his
procedural court hearing
via video link, sees no new
faces from his solitary cell
– kinder to his victims.
At the public hearing his victims,
some in wheelchairs, fill the
courtroom gallery, then more
courtrooms along the passage,
connected in by video link.
They came to see the face of
the killer, crying as they looked.
Some had stayed away, seeing
him again was too painful.
The prisoner sits still, emotionless.
Routine mental health checks are
ordered by the judge, defence
lawyers accepted, legally recognised.
All setting the stage for his trial.
The Muslim community have
weathered their city’s turmoil
of the Christchurch mosque
shootings, buried their dead,
visit their wounded in hospital
care for others at home.
They attended their remembrance
service, now go back to their
mosque for Friday prayers.
The terrorist’s court case will
ebb and flow on its various
stages through news media,
reminding Muslims of their
trauma for months as police
and lawyers build up their case,
as the terrorist demands
rights from his prison cell.
Unless they can completely
ignore the outside world’s
prolific news outlets.
Will non Muslims continue to
support them ? or fade away ?
For our dark racist underbelly
will also continue its hate.