Three moving poems on the nuclear blasts that ended the Second World War and the lives of many innocents in Hiroshima & Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, respectively.
Hiroshima School for Girls August 6, 1945 The day began like any other: all of us lined up for morning drills beneath a clear sky, mock wooden rifles propped against our shoulders. Suddenly there was a sharp blue light like a camera flash. Teacher cried “Down!” We tossed our guns aside, dropped to the ground, thumbs in ears, fingers over eyes to protect them from damage just as we’d practiced. (Published first in Skipping Stones) At that Moment I was in the schoolyard singing the Student Brigade song when a B-29 flew overhead. A verse appeared in my mind: Madness reigned on the the bloody battleground of Saipan. After the flash silence the city, destroyed transformed into ruins. Next thing I knew I was sitting in a field barefoot gazing at clouds of dust houses without roofs. Rain began to fall drops drumming on the ground, my body staining my uniform with brown spots. Everything around me was painted gray. Burnt people lay along the riverbanks. A woman stared from swollen sockets her hair charred only a wisp of clothing on her shoulders. From her twisted mouth: My child! My child. My Daughter Etsuko left home wearing baggy pants and a straw hat, school bag on her back. At 8:15 flash explosion inferno Men and women burnt, drooping drifting from Hiroshima like sleepwalkers. We waited. Etsuko didn’t return. Clinging to hope we searched through smoldering rubble heaps of corpses, among ravaged victims pleading for water, begging for help naked women stooping at bridge girders. At 6 p.m. we headed home. Someone said, “Etsuko’s here!” But she was scorched, every limb swollen, her eyes blinded. “I was with a friend,” Etsuko said. “We went west with the wind crawled across the train bridge, came back to Koi.” I brought her to the emergency clinic where scores were treated, died anyway. The next day, Etsuko opened her eyes. A miracle: “I can see!” she said. ”Good. We’ll be going home soon.” Etusko gazed at me and departed this world at 10:15. (“At that Moment” and “My Daughter” were first published in When Women Waken)
Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She now lives in Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival, and winner of a SCBWI Magazine Merit Award.
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