Monday, July 22, 2013

The Sky

In a few weeks it will be the anniversary of the dropping of the A-Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I recently picked up a book, titled White Flash, Black Rain: Women of Japan Relive the Bomb, which features poetry and testimonials from Japanese women who survived the bomb. The language and imagery are haunting and chilling in the way writing about such an inhuman experience should be.

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The Sky
by Horiba Kiyoko

I
I want you all to know how blue the sky was
the sky toward which the millions of rain-struck
and sunburned eyes were turned

How blue the sky was
the sky
silently embracing
moans of the inflamed earth
a hell more cruel than hell
instantly imprinted for eternity on the retinas of
dead embryos

How blue the sky was
after the white parachute clouds
flew away far beyond the mountain range
their poison mushrooms floating away
on our Acheron

II

August 6, 1945
The day that stains humankind
that day the blue sky
bloomed splendid crimson and purple
a mandala of old folk tales
that swirling and roaring rose of damnation

Between mountains a narrow delta fills with the debris of incinerated bodies...

A hand grasps stone in pain
crumbles, remains on stone
clothes burn away on corpses with
skin no longer skin
on others flesh gathers around wrists
like beautiful orange-colored gloves

and intestines red and purple hang
outside bodies
babies starving and bloody and
heads smashed with stones
parade, ghost monsters
marching to a place without destruction
to a world of green and of life
marching as long as their breath lasts

III
The Second Day
Pus runs blue-yellow

The Third Day
Maggots fall off living bodies

IV
Day after day
behind the butterfly of death's wings
corpses increase, laid like eggs one on another

Human grease
shines in the night
in the city of ruins

Daylight and along the hollows of riverbank sand
ashes of the unknown pile up
burned again, the burned alive
become pale blue vapor and bloody smell
giving off an invisible plea
to survivors' nostrils

Day after day
smoke rises thinly
like a grove
like vain prayers
along the river Ota
each rivulet of smoke sways and melts into
the cold, clear sky

How blue that sky was
the sky
nurtured all summer by
the smoke of corpses

V
This afternoon
in a suburban hospital a woman
wraps her big belly with
a borrowed yukata
its thin sash hangs limp on the straw mat

A crowd of the severely injured is taken away. Stench and moans saturate the walls and straw mats. The footprints and signs of death are everywhere...

And a woman alone
looks motionlessly
at the sky

 A nurse whispers, "She has a wound in her belly and has lost all her water." "She and the baby will not live," the doctor says.

Blue-black the woman's face
already enters the circle of death
her eyes staring
at the blue sky

What does she see
over the ruins and corpses, over the ashes and rubble
in this cobalt blue sky?

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