August 6 – poem published in Night-Blooming Cereus and other poems and Columbia Daily Tribune
I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
The anniversary of the morning America
bombed Hiroshima—no ground footage, just
aerial takes of a beautiful bursting sun. Cut
to stories and drawings of crippled survivors—
a woman lies supine, reaching for a hand
or perhaps a knife, to cut away
that white sun from the blue oriental sky.
The lady from the hilltop estate
wears a tattoo of exotic birds
on her back, the brand of a melted
silk kimono, and joins the hundreds running
numbly, out of time,
their watches stopped at 8:05:
the laws of magnetism froze
at the zero hour.
Near the epicenter, people dig
for the watches or teeth of relatives
to bury with their ancestors
if they can walk that far.
Then the newsreel of Oppenheimer
disowning his dazzling son
with the face of American men who have
daughters like me. But that mask seemed
to melt, a self-portrait in hell,
his face the face of a man who has seen
himself for the first time, and shuddered—
I am become
Death, the destroyer of worlds . . .
I pour steaming water into a china cup,
the teabag waiting, and watch
the silent brown cloud float to the top,
sweeten it with honey and turn
to the child at my side babbling
boomboom to a toy.
- Hiroshima mayor: no fourth term (search.japantimes.co.jp)
- ilenesally: J. Robert Oppenheimer | Biography | atomicarchive.com (atomicarchive.com)
- Why Engineers Must Try to Save the World (spectrum.ieee.org)