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Lay for the Day
6th August

1945: just after eight o’clock on this Monday morning, a B29 Superfortress bomber of the United States Army Air Forces, bearing the name Enola Gay, released a single bomb over Hiroshima, a Japanese city of about 340,000 people. The bomb had been nicknamed “Little Boy”, to distinguish it from the much larger device, “Fat Man”, which was already prepared to drop on another city, Nagasaki.
When the bomb exploded 2,000 feet above the ground, 66,000 of Hiroshima’s inhabitants died almost instantaneously, and a further 69,000 were injured. By the end of 1945, the death toll had reached 140,000. By a conservative estimate “Little Boy” ended 200,000 lives.

Little Boy Thinks Again

I’m taking back the fire, smoothing back
faces, recondensing eyeballs
and returning the leaves to the tree.
Bone, bricks and timber reassembled
and flame and ashes sifted together
to remake paper – the breath of the sun
indrawn – I can suck back the first fragments
of steel to clamp down and stifle.
Now to divide the critical mass.

Holding the two pieces firmly apart
I ascend gently on my parachute
which collapses in a moment like a flower
folding and recramming itself into the seed
before I hop back in the belly
and snuggle between my fastenings. There.

Now you can take me home.

John Gibbens
from Makings ’77-’83

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar