In keeping with our atoms and all things atomic theme this week, Monday’s poem is authored by Sankichi Toge, Japanese poet and peace activist.
Twenty-four-year-old Sankichi Toge was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on his city. Sankichi Toge began writing poems as a teenager; his first collection of poetry entitled, “Genbaku shishu“ (“Poems of the Atomic Bomb”) was published in 1951. He died at the age of 36 in Hiroshima.
His poem August 6th is named for the day in August 1945 on which the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
How could I ever forget that flash of light!
In a moment thirty thousand people ceased to be
The cries of fifty thousand killed
Through yellow smoke whirling into light
Buildings split, bridges collapsed
Crowded trams burnt as they rolled about
Hiroshima, all full of boundless heaps of embers
Soon after, skin dangling like rags
With hands on breasts
Treading upon the spilt brains
Wearing shreds of burnt cloth round their loins
There came numberless lines of the naked
Bodies on the parade ground, scattered like
jumbled stone images
Crowds in piles by the river banks
loaded upon rafts fastened to shore
Turned by and by into corpses
under the scorching sun
in the midst of flame
tossing against the evening sky
Round about the street where mother and
brother were trapped alive under the fallen house
The fire-flood shifted on
On beds of filth along the Armory floor
Heaps, God knew who they were….
Heaps of schoolgirls lying in refuse
with half their skin peeled off, bald
The sun shone, and nothing moved
but the buzzing flies in the metal basins
Reeking with stagnant odor
How can I forget that stillness
Prevailing over the city of three hundred thousand?
Amidst that calm
How can I forget the entreaties
Of the departed wife and child
Through their orbs of eyes
Cutting through our minds and souls?