On this day, the sun
Appeared – no, not slowly over the horizon –
But right in the city square.
A blast of dazzle poured over,
Not from the middle sky,
But from the earth torn raggedly open.
Human shadows, dazed and lost, pitched
In every direction: this blaze,
Not risen from the east,
Smashed in the city’s heart –
An immense wheel
Of Death’s swart suncar, spinning down and apart
In every direction.
Instant of a sun’s rise and set
Vision-annihilating flare one compressed noon.
It was not human shadows that lengthened, paled, and died;
It was men suddenly become mist, then gone.
The shadows stay:
Burned on the rocks, stones of these vacant streets.
A sun conjured by men converted men to air, to nothing;
White shadows singed on the black rock give back
Man’s witness to himself.
Agyeya and Leonard Nathan (1911-1986)
On August 6th and 9th, 1945, the cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki were destroyed by the first atomic bombs used in warfare.
NOTE TO SELF: Sixty-one years later it appears that we haven’t learned
much at all.