Wind twists and turns paper cranes
pink, red and orange, strung together
social activists, carrying children
scattered under the park shelter
gathering of the concerned
those who lived through WW ll
along with dread haired youth
still fighting the old fights.
Native American woman of the Kalapuya tribe speaks
looking out beyond the crowd
talking about the old ones
in New York and Chicago dying from the heat
the little girl with asthma
it hurts when she breaths.
Everything has changed
all of her people decimated
lines in her face deep
black hair streaked with gray
radiation had destroyed the thyroids of the salmon
swimming in circles
they don't know where to spawn.
Laid out on the picnic tables
tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers,
tahini and tabuli in recycled containers.
up from the banks of the river which flows though the city
children elderly citizens, homeless men
Native Americans, Japanese all eat together.
A physics professor from this small town's college
sits on a park bench
transfixed, the irony of his life astonishes him
leaves him stunned
he floats like a particle of dust
between a moment 50 years ago and the present moment
he worked on the Manhattan Project
anonymous, he looks around the gathering.
The last speaker survived the bombing of Hiroshima
bright morning, blue skies, sunshine
hearing the sound of airplanes
he looked out the window, saw three B29's
sleek silver pens
streak across the blue summer sky
sunshine glinting off silver wings
a blast of red and orange like a sunset
then pink, it was dark as midnight.
He felt pressure against his body
hid under a school desk
equations written on the blackboard, E=MC2.
his hands covered his eyes, ears sticky with wet blood
many small cuts from flying glass
blown inward from the window
slow motion, millions of points of light and dust
matter cascading inward, down upon itself, imploding
beautiful but deadly
Yeats predicted, the center cannot hold
nothing left of the building but the first and second floor beams
his schoolmates dead or dying.
Small Japanese man, western bolo tie
polished amber agate, sky blue jacket
apologizes before he tells his story
he doesn't want to offend anyone
not the pentagon, the white house or the military.
He describes the twelve and thirteen year old boys
drafted early that year, their duty, to clean up the center of the city
that morning their skin dripped and pealed off their bodies
they walked like ghosts toward the outside of the city looking for water
parched arms, extended palms, upward, away from their bodies
puffed and swollen, they would soon die.
He looked towards Hiroshima, the old city
saw black smoke curling into clouds
he begins to cry, he suffered with fever and diarrhea for two weeks
his body shed the radiation
summer morning, the red and orange explosion
the mushroom cloud
the pink aftermath, the final darkness
on his mind's eye.