Anthony W. Pahl


Behind me, as I look out the window
towards the skeleton building,
the wall of copper, etched and washed in acid,
reflects the afternoon sun
mirrored off the river of water and cement
of the un-ancient Park of Peace.
The window of my camera cannot record;
the wall is too big.

Straight lines to many compass points
radiate from a red dot so vivid on the wall;
black and copper the only other colours.
My feet are six hundred yards from the red dot
and the skeleton building is mapped evidently
on the scaled wall –
five hundred yards from the red dot –
five hundred yards in front of me.

Below, small and young, workers toil
to erect the dais for the important talkers;
to join chrome waist-high stands with ropes
to restrain those of no importance.
For in a week, on the sixth day of August,
Hiroshima remembers the instant of flash,
the years of misery,
the decades of consequence.
Fifty-Six years they remember –
I wonder to myself, does anyone else?

And the skeleton building looms
across the river
five hundred yards away.
Its backdrop is of skyscrapers,
and its iron helmet-like dome is no protection.

A movement to the left…
and a pilgrim hauls the braided log
to toll the Peace Bell
while foreigners click Japanese cameras in record.
And the toller fails to notice
she is facing the skeleton
formed in the moment for which the bell tolls.

The Lady of a Thousand Cranes,
raised on her plinth,
has turned her back.

And sadly, the window of my soul
cannot record the moment.

It is too big!

Submitted for the July 2001 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “From the Window