I stepped down from the trolley that day in Hiroshima
and walked by the river where the children had floated in flames,
but I could not hear their cries of misu, misu. Lost.
I saw the rowboats tied to the shore waiting for the living,
and the Prefecture building as the autumn wind
blew through the skeletal dome and every leaf lay scattered.
I passed by heaps of flowers and burning candles
to the doors that let me in to where the lights were dim,
so many shadows, each display lit only by a row of flashlights.
Power outage, someone said and so I need not pay my yen
but paid another way past fingers dripping skin,
a lunch box full of barley ash, the twisted tricycle
Shin-Ichi’s mother dug from severed earth. She gave it
so the boy would live in memory:
sculptured handlebars and pedals burned to black
all buried by the father who found him lying dead.
I thought of myself at five,
pedaling my tricycle down the middle
of Wilsonia Road, the rainbow shine of oil,
the sun, my father’s call
as he came swooping down to pull me back,
shouting, Don’t ever do that again.
Although of course I would.
And of course we did.