The very ground: Japan

by Laura McCullough on March 12, 2011

It’s less than 48 hours after the earthquake, tsunami, and now the nuclear power plants’ integrity loss, two of them. It’s Saturday morning here on the East Coast of the U.S. Two of my children will attend birthday parties today, a third will go to a St. Paddy’s Day event, another will work out, the last will sleep and then go to his job. My job will be to ferry people from here to there and continue to work on the Symposium on Poetry, Race, Class, Sexuality, Gender, and the Body.

And to consume news as we wait. For the rising death toll, for radiation release levels, for possible meltdowns. But so far the video that has touched me the most is the smallest moment, nothing particularly stunning: no pile up of cars looking as if my child dumped his Hot Wheels in the tub; no houses lying horizontal; no blooming smoke or raging flames; no boats swept under bridges; no walls of water seeming to creep like a 50’s B-grade movie monster, but really moving at a velocity no person could withstand; and no stories yet of who pulled whom out of what hole or fire pit or rubble. No, this video is startling for its simplicity:

a young person at home in his room (it seems to be a him), his calling for his mother, his rushing through his shaking home outside, the neighbor carrying her child:

and underneath this is the young man’s breathing, how you can  feel inside his beating chest, almost, almost, how this could be any boy anywhere, but it is ONE boy in terror and uncertainty.

Multiply that by his family, then his town, his country, then, like the very tsunami, does it lose some power as the terror leaves its epicenter?

I will go about my chores and kiddy birthday parties today: inside I hope I can carry this boy’s racing heart, his fear as the very ground beneath him becomes untrustworthy, as the possibility of reason is revealed as insufficient. There is only, where is my mother ? My family? In any language.

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