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Hiroshima Day (6 August)

The opening verses of James Kirkup's poem, 'White Shadows', about a photograph of the white shadow left by a man annihilated in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Nagasaki suffered a second atomic attack three days later.

White Shadows
It was another morning, another morning.
A morning like any other, of dust and death.
A morning of war: raids, speeches, warnings.
In wartime, all mornings are alike.

Your were crossing a bridge in Hiroshima,
A bridge of plain cement, a place without mystery.
Below, the grey river ran as always, going somewhere,
Metalled and moved by the early summer sun.

The sun, that cast your shadow clearly, a healthy black.
It was the shadow of a complete man, someone
With a life, a personality, a past: but
Moving through a present that could have no future.

What were you thinking? Were you feared, hated, loved?
Were you late for work? Sad or sick? Artist, student?
Photographer or newsman returning home after a night out?
What was your plan for the day? Who were you, shadow?

I do not know your name, your age, your blood type.
And now I shall never see your face, hear your voice.
No one will ever know your name, your age, your blood type.
And are there any left who remember your face, your voice?

Now, the name, the face, the voice no longer matter.
A 'plane drilled the blue, as they often did. The river ran.
Your shadow was black: then white — the flash was all
And nothing. You were not there to hear the rest.

Your shade — poor, forked human creature — fled
Like a mist of dew on morning glories. Your breath
Evaporated, taken away, lost soul, before
You even had time to scream. Your shade was white.

NO MORE HIROSHIMAS , poems and translations by James Kirkup, is published by Spokesman.


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