atom bombs exist

There is a small part of Inger Christensen’s alphabet that goes as written:

atom bombs exist

Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Hiroshima, August

6th, 1945

Nagasaki, August

9th, 1945

140,000 dead and

wounded in Hiroshima

some 60,000 dead and

wounded in Nagasaki

I wound up re-reading the page a few times. I then set the book down, felt the tears, leaned back, and shook. I couldn’t believe it. Despite having heard this information countless times, I could not believe it. People trying to stay alive, people marveling at the sky, people smiling, people taking breaths, people humming. Somewhere, there must have been people in love.

(And then they were killed).

Alphabet is a poem in the form of a small, densely packed world much like our own. There are terribly beautiful and simple moments: “apricot trees exist, apricot trees exist.” There is also death and our startling drive toward self-annihilation. 140,000 dead, 60,000 dead. 

It is a process, a cycle, and there is a constant echo throughout the poem, though it is never tiresome. It is the Fibonnaci sequence in words. It is eerily breathtaking and heartbreaking, because it fluctuates between micro and macro: atomic bombs, a breezy day in April, the darkness of murder, a hand tucked into another.

In the end, the children are gone. What’s left is the gentle, scarred earth—nature, or rather, what has survived the centuries and millennia in the refuge of a soothing repetition: exists, exists, exists. 


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