After the Earthquake

1 November 2017

After the earthquake silence walks, detached and deranged, white
as the white papers of NGO inspectors staring into opened

shacks, accessing stunned survivors, noting reality into a logic
of numbers and words, jolted, for sure, like endless valleys still shaking; they jot facts

about fallen temples, splayed out like the trails of reeking rubbish
clumps; they draw tables to show how the mountain gods

have reassembled their idea of beauty for the upper
class, miraculously untouched by the earthquake’s

tumble through the lives of beggars and dogs,
that unruly wave that tore hemp trees

from high ground, dumped them deep down in Bhaktapur;
they fashion data on how it swept through the dark

American compound, that drunken dancing front,
pulverising sewer pipes and grain fields,

brewing discord among neighbours, broken, for sure,
standing among their shattered lives for the first time.

It crept inside uncle’s head, disturbing
the furniture, left him muttering something,

a cross between a howl and a child; they can’t say
how it mashed up his senses, words can’t go there, no, no

words, packing up their observations, plumes of dust gathering
at their feet, around uncle’s face, gone all hard;

no words except – namatse, trailing off,
as if after the shock they left blessing for tomorrow.

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About Brian Obiri-Asare

Brian Obiri-Asare is a writer of Ghanaian descent based in central Australia. His work engages with the complexities and contradictions of a multi-racial society. Recently, he was awarded an ArtsNT Varuna Fellowship, was shortlisted for the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prize and received a meritorious mention in the 2021 Cloncurry Prize.

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