Never have her willows known more poignant cause to weep.
Never have her people felt so hesitant to sleep.
For tectonic plates have shifted
while the earth has heaved and lifted.
Anxiously we wait and watch, our fearful vigils keep.

Christchurch lies in ruins, and remembering her reign—
city of great beauty—only brings us bitter pain.
Her historic buildings shattered;
lives are lost that deeply mattered.
People live in dread that it will happen once again.

Aftershocks are shuddering to varying degrees—
terror and anxiety now bring us to our knees.
Because Mother Nature’s venting
and our hopes and faith she’s denting.
Never has our city known more tragic days than these.

Rising from destruction we’ll rebuild her basic core,
knowing self-assurance is a thing we’ll feel no more.
For our lives are changed forever
and we know that we will never
presuppose the safety we took pleasure in before.

Quiet now and tense, we mourn the many lives we’ve lost,
grieve for fallen children as we tally up the cost,
as the earth’s ferocious shaking
leaves us anxious, angry, aching,
shocked at how the lines of trust and confidence are crossed.

Never have emotions run so open, high and deep—
certainty, security, demolished in a heap.
For the garden city’s crying;
still in shock, she’s sadly lying.
Never have her willows known more poignant cause to weep…

Never will Cantabrians succumb to bitter pain;
Christchurch will emerge a victor—courage will remain.
Let the willow’s strength inspire
as we raise her from this mire…
Never will this keep us down—for we will smile again.

By Catherine Lee

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