The Great Tohoku Earthquake

March 11, 2011
Just an ordinary day
then earth fell away beneath us

Cell phones grinding in unison
An alarm we had never heard before

Sendai went first
Twenty seconds later it was Tokyo’s turn

The ground shook
The windows rattled

The scream of silence
of people looking up

Desks and tables
Became our shelters

No tsunamis
No alarms by speaker

Phones still grinding
Buildings swayed five minutes

Guam’s temblors
Cracked plaster and concrete

Alaska’s jolts
Unraveled infrastructure

San Francisco’s quakes
Broken glass littered downtown

Each seemed the largest
Bouncing, swaying, ripping noises

San Francisco was the deadliest
Guam’s scared us back to church

Tokyo was by far the largest

The quiet comes
We struggle to reconnect

We pray for family
Hope is for respite

We reach out
People help

Neighbors clean up
Friends email and text

In Japanese
And twenty other languages

A brief and fleeting moment
We were one in the face of catastrophe


Oops! We are so sorry this article wasn’t published on Saturday, which is when our stories usually go live! We’re changing our Editorial timetable next month, so we can avoid this happening again. We hope this sneak peek into next month’s edition will make it up to you!