August 6

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the dr...

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August 6 – poem published in Night-Blooming Cereus and other poems and Columbia Daily Tribune

August 6

I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad Gita

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
to a toy.

Kathleen McCoy

About Kathleen McCoy

I'm a poet, a professor, a mother, a wife, a bit of an activist, a lover of the word at Poetry books include Ringing the Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2019), Green and Burning, Glas Agus a Dho (Word Tech, 2016) and More Water Than Words (chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2017). Books are available from the publishers or Amazon, or order from your local bookseller.
Aside | This entry was posted in Faith, Peace, Poetry, Politics, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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