By Marilyn Zuckerman
“I should have burned my fingers before I sent it!”
—Einstein, about a letter sent to FDR requesting the atom project
Broadway and 42nd Street
the ecstatic mob
hilarious with relief,
a sailor grabs a girl
out of the crowd
kissing her so soundly
they bend back in a graceful arc –
a famous photograph,
historic as the tearful Frenchman
greeting GI’s after D-Day.
Suddenly, out of the carnival swarm,
the street littered in confetti,
ticker tape and torn newspapers,
my father appears.
He greets me solemnly.
No kissing, no embrace.
The nightmare will never
be over for him –
he still hears the guns over Belleau Wood,
smells the stench of the corpses
stacked along the firewall,
the day he was gassed
wounded by shrapnel
waiting all day to be taken to the field hospital
until after they cleared away the dead –
there were so many.
Yet on that August day
the triumphant host
neither I nor they giving a thought
to the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
the charred flesh
the incinerated found in the ruins
under scorched timbers,
or what the world would be like after.
· · ·
All the events in the poem above actually occurred including Einstein’s regret at encouraging the atom bomb.
From my book, In the Ninth Decade, Red Dragonfly Press.