A Poem for Remembering Hiroshima — August 6 1945

by marthastephens

a-bomb-dome 

The Hiroshima Peace Dome Memorial

A building that survived the U. S. atomic bomb and was left exactly as it appeared after the blast.   It is surrounded now by a Peace Park that is visited by many people  from around the world. 

        Friends, I have posted this summer some of the great poems in our literature on the scourge of war.  Among my own poems, the verse you see below is my favorite.  I wrote it in commemoration of those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9th, 1945, and all who may yet perish in atomic war.  It imagines what our last day might be like if WE were to find ourselves under atomic attack. 

Last Day

 

On the last day

A rabbit came to taste the dandelions

Along the low hedge,

Sent, some might say, to bless us

Though he did not know anything about us

Or what blessings are.

 

2

The great cloud of death was drifting on

And we were in its way.

There was nowhere to go

So we simply stayed at home

On the last day,  

Not wanting to die underground

Pecking away at a protein bar

In an illusion of safety.

 

3

A repast, in fact, was not what we seemed to need

On the last day, 

Though it was good to watch the rabbit

Chewing its munchies

Along the low hedge,

Startled a bit, when we appeared

With the shears to clip things, 

Showing us for a moment its fat cottontail

In a bobbing burst down the hedgerow.

 

4

Yes, we trimmed the hedges

On the last day.

Not thinking anyone would ever see

And yet — who knows —

I suppose we felt.

We liked the yard, the hedge, the rabbit,

A slow walk down the block

To see our bit of woods.

We liked the companionship of other living things

On the last day 

And the beauty of them and

The lack of sentience in them and all foreboding.

 

5

We went on walking a little 

And trimming a little in the yard 

And the doomed rabbit supped on its grassy fare 

Along the low hedge

And did not know anything at all

Of a cloud of death 

On the last day.  

                       

                       — Martha Stephens

 

It is said that over 60,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima on the day our atomic bomb was dropped — and many more over the years from the radiation sickness that followed.  In the central area of the city no life remained; not an insect, nothing, and there ruled a strange and utter silence.  The city was entirely destroyed.

You may see many pictures of the victims on line, but I will not compel anyone to look at them here.  

The U. S. remains the only country to have exploded a nuclear bomb.  I believe we must work to banish all such weapons if we truly want our little globe to survive.  Protests against the bombs are taking place, as I write, not just in Japan, but in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the bombs used in Japan were developed, in California near our laboratories for nuclear research, and in many other places around the world.  Three days ago the last crew member of the plane Enola Gay, which unleashed the Hiroshima bomb, died at 93.   The bomb he helped detonate was called by our security “Little Boy” (and the Nagasaki bomb “Fat Man”).  This crewman had said in his later years that he no longer believed in war or atomic weapons.

PEACE!  TO EVERYONE ON EARTH

 

 

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