To mark the 76th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, I am reprinting my post 8:15 A.M. This tragedy must never be repeated. – Jadi
At 8:15 a.m. some 65 years later,
Birds perch on the Dome.
It’s startlingly calm. A becalming place
Green, tranquil, filled with standing statues
tourists with cameras and
prayers for peace and
pray-ers for peace and
Classes of school children
They bring chains of 1,000 cranes
folded in loving memory of Sadako Sasaki
Her cranes became tinier
leukemia advancing until
Sadako folded symbols of longevity and healing
with the aid of a pin.
At 8:15 a.m. some 76 years later,
Five cranes hold sentinel on
The skeleton now, simply,
called the A-Bomb Dome.
Statues are the world’s countries’ monuments
to Hiroshima reborn, arisen
declaring her residents will,
in a place called The City of Peace.
Classes of children, schooled in knowledge of what
stand for photos before the fountain with the flame
in the center burning
until the last nuclear weapon is dismantled;
Before the cenotaph shielding
names of the dead, reopened, names
added on August 6th.
The Peace Park, the terrible
And the tourists with cameras?
We bear witness. We come to
angels danced on the head of a pin?
We come to see The Truth or
as much truth as we can bear.
Seeing demands the clearest sight
possible when your eyes are filled
with the pin pricks of tears
like the water the burned begged for as they died
The peace fountains spouting outside the museum
the river that flows
near the A-Bomb Dome,
where the cranes have taken up residence.
(17 October 2010 21:27 p.m. Updated 6 August 2021.)
NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2010. Previously published as 8:15 A.M. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. I wrote the first version of this poem while we visited Japan in 2010. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m.on August 6, 1945. Sadako Sasaki lived 2 kilometers from the epicenter. She was 2 years old at the time, and died of the radiation exposure 10 years later. Sadako is famous for folding origami cranes. According to the Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish: Sadako hoped to be healed. Today classrooms of children all around the world send strings of paper cranes to be displayed at Sadako Sasaki’s memorial in the Peace Park. Her statue and story are a powerful reminder of the innocent lives lost.
The cenotaph is opened each August 6th and the newest names of the dead are added. Its arched form provides a shelter to the souls of the victims.
The Peace Park contains statues dedicated by countries around the world; a museum; and monuments. We visited at night and the Dome (the only building left standing after the blast) was occupied by cranes. The image of this World Heritage Monument and the symbolic birds took a powerful hold on my imagination. When we returned at daylight to visit the park it overflowed with classes of laughing children, stunned tourists, and an atmosphere that is impossible to describe. It is a place of shared tragedy, and humanity.
The cranes were still there, perching in the Dome.
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