October 20, 2014
After the first flash, white as scalding milk,
blanched eyes dim in their sockets & grope toward
mortal sight, mere fire roiling in charred air.
Wind fists & lifts a cloak of desert dust
in billows & folds shrugged over scarlet
shoulders of flame. A botched shape slowly stands
& roars. Its breath reeks of burnt sand. Sage
ignites. Birds fall in flames. This is the Song
Brow shadows thicken. The figure
rises into thinner air & darkens
& chokes. Its last strangled growlings fatten
an uneasy silence. Some people laugh.
Some cry. I say, “It worked.” My tongue is black
with ash. These men have been my many arms.
Vishnu tries to teach the Prince his duty.
Again he bellows: I am become
Death, destroyer of worlds.
we all think that,
one way or another.
Robert Oppenheimer, physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory
By John Canaday