August 6, 1945

August 6, 1945
by Millen Brand
Excerpted from Local Lives: Poems About the Pennsylvania Dutch, ©1975

Fred Braun has just leaned out on a low windowsill
that needs painting. There are cracks in it,
but so far they have let no rain through.
They can wait a little longer.
This moment is his to enjoy,
looking at his apple orchard and two small plum trees
and under them a red napkin of bee balm.
It is beautiful and peaceful. His wife
is troweling a flower bed
along the house wall. He hears
the thud of an apple falling, part
of the nice lethargy of the day. And today
across the world
behind a plane, the Enola Gay,
there floats in the air, slowly descending,
a hardly visible thin tube
with a small fuse at one end
that will fire one of two parts
into the larger part at the other end
and explode this almost unnoticeable filament
with a light brighter than the sun. Below,
in the wooden city Hiroshima
can it not be that a man
has just rolled back one of his living-room shutters
and is looking out on his garden, thinking,
The morning glories on their bamboo sticks,
the blue sky,
how beautiful everything is! Let me enjoy it.
I should be painting the shutters,
but they can wait.
The rain does not yet come through.

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