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Lay for the Day
16th July

1945: about 5.30am, in a desert in New Mexico, the “Trinity shot” was fired – the first atomic explosion.
The next day a petition from 70 scientists, organised by the Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard, was presented to President Truman. It appealed to him not to use America’s new weapon against the Japanese people. One paragraph read:
“The development of atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this direction, and there is almost no limit to the destructive power which will become available in the course of their future development. Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale.”

The dog star crawled into the smallest
hole in the world,
found a hole in it,
crawled in further,
sulked nose to tail and yawned.

Desert turned to glass.
Dark space between flowers
burn-patterned skin.



John Gibbens
from Intimations


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar