We Must Refuse a Repeat Performance



My first Japanese rain drenched me outside the Hiroshima train station.
It rained to get me back for being American,
to make a physical point, cold, wet, gray.
Would the rain still coming down bear radiation?
Is it safe to drink the water?
The vivid technicolor green of the river water — is it radioactivity?
Who could I ask?

This river once held thousands of floating corpses,
burning human beings jumping in with desperate hope
the water might make their deaths a tiny bit less painful.
Bubbling skin dripped from their arms like candle wax, like oil.

On the street, I search the elderly for tumors on their necks and chests,
blotchy scars from burns my country left on them to end the war.
I see no traces. Are they all dead?
Do they hide in hospitals or houses?
Do they conceal their wounds with clothing or cosmetics?

The war was almost over when we picked this place to test effects,
the geographic features of this home,
its beauty, mountains forming valley,
part of why it was chosen from several target cities.
Hiroshima, city of water.

Officially the bomber's target was the t-shaped bridge,
spanning where Honkawa and Motoyasugawa cross.
Walking on the new bridge, I wonder what they think of me.
Can they tell which white country I come from?
I joke about wanting to look Canadian.

I feel no ghosts, only silent hum of massive absence.
Perhaps atomic bombs steal every trace of energy.
Studies are still being done.
Three hundred fifty thousand one year,
a hundred forty thousand less the next.
More than one-third a city turned to dust.
One building left to remain as a bomb-damaged site,
charred bricks, melted metal beams,
not looking nearly as bad as it should.
Museum, filled with lost hair, burnt skin,
stacks of fused coins,
clothes with stains from pus and blood, and scorched,
worn by junior-high kids carried home to die by desperate blistered parents.
Every wide flat park feels
much too open.

* * * * *

This week is capped off by a New Moon in Pisces on Sunday night, a perfect chance to remind ourselves of the unseen universal energies that unite every living being into a single undifferentiated entity. If we hurt one part of our collective self, we hurt us all. Let's fill our world with compassion and understanding, so there's no room for the needless suffering to enter. Isn't there enough inevitable suffering to refrain from adding more?