Friday, January 11, 2019

Poetry Friday: The Last Normal Day

Today, I'm remembering the last normal day before the earthquake, exactly nine years ago. At 4:53 on the afternoon of January 12th, the earth shook and everything changed. Three hundred thousand people died. Or maybe forty-six thousand. Or maybe two hundred and thirty thousand. Or maybe eighty-five thousand. We don't really know. But we know it was so, so many. And there was so much chaos and sorrow left behind.

January 12th will never be a normal day for me. But January 11th was a normal day.

The Last Normal Day

The last normal day
we woke in the morning
and went to bed at night.

The last normal day
we didn’t even know it was normal
as we ate our normal meals
and did our normal work
and hugged each other
(or maybe argued)

The last normal day
the sun rose and set.

The last normal day
we complained and rejoiced,
we came and went,
we talked and were quiet.

To be honest,
I don’t know what we did
the last normal day,
just that it was normal.

The last normal day
the ground was still
and fooled us into thinking that it would
always be that way,
always normal,
but no,
it was the last normal day.

Ruth, from

January is always a difficult time, as I wrote here, earlier this week.  At that post there is also a link to the collection of my earthquake poems that I compiled last year for the eighth anniversary. And I did a Poetry Tuesday post this week, too.

Today's roundup is here.


Irene Latham said...

This poem is so so relatable... so much of life is marked by those not-normal days we didn't see coming... how we might have done things differently had we known! Thank you for sharing this, Ruth. Maybe someday you will create a collection that somehow chronicles this experience?? I hope so. xo

Linda B said...

Though heart-rending, like Irene, I believe many would love reading all your poems about the earthquake, Ruth, when it was normal, then not. It feels like you've also shown the goodness that writing brings to those in sorrow. I know that after some of my own sad times, writing of the moments helped. Hugs to you this January.

KatApel - said...


Mitchell Linda said...

Yes, haunting and relatable and much that earthquake did.

Mary Lee said...

I remember the morning of normal teaching I did before I called the doctor over my lunch hour and heard the words "breast cancer." Normal has been different ever since then. Not the same magnitude of tragedy, I know. But everyone learns, somehow or another, that normal is relative and it can be whisked away in a heartbeat.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Yes - your thoughtful words give us a slight glimpse of the impact of a natural disaster, and a bit of a road marker on our own journeys, when something went with a shock from "normal" to "not." Thanks for sharing, Ruth.

Tara Smith said...

What Mary Lee said, because normality can (and does) disappear in an instant.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hi, Ruth--I came and read your post on Friday during school and now realize I didn't comment to say I'm sending you blessings and echoes for your difficult January. I love that of course you can't remember details of January 11, but this will always be true:
The last normal day
we complained and rejoiced,
we came and went,
we talked and were quiet.
Thank you for enriching my One Difficult Truth, which has come as such a shock to me.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, Ruth, so beautiful, so sad, so true. This will stay with me. Thank you.