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Sport 12: Autumn 1994

because of this thing that will happen on tuesday

because of this thing that will happen on tuesday

for Juan

a few minutes before 11 am
on August the ninth, 1945
a man named Shigeyoshi Morimoto

stumbled from a train. During the previous
three days, he’d travelled two hundred miles
without food or sleep, and while he may

have passed through by remembering the blue
and yellow kites he’d made in a past life, or
by closely watching the person who owned

his face, what is certain is that while they froze
in the open coal truck he’d talked
with three companions. If I had the words

I could tell you what they said, what they felt
but in those days I’d aged only a year
and a day, when I googoood at butterflies

I didn’t know that in one millionth
of a second, a burst point reached a heat
of many million degrees Celsius.

On August the sixth, 1945
in the city of Hiroshima
a man named Shigeyoshi Morimoto

was buying supplies from a paint shop when shreds
of a paper wall protected his body
from a fast moving wind. I’ve no idea

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how exact this is, but I know you want
to know what happens, to shush the fear
murmuring our hearts, you want to know if

afterwards we can go back home, and wash
the wind from our hands and faces, and
otherwise behold the world. Well, we can.

‘First of all, there’s a great blue flash,’ and if
your cells come back, you can travel to a time
before that time when a person aged so

quickly, they didn’t become a ghost, but what
was left, a grey smudge on a concrete wall.
The hills and trees will be familiar

and likewise the shops and crowded streets
and here’s the bush, and here’s the pond
and here’s the school where you learned to read

and here’s the park, the slide, the string
and here’s the kite, and here’s the wind.
And if, on entering the house, your mouth

is completely unowned, don’t worry, no one
will notice: as it speaks, they’ll hear
just one word: pika, pika, pika.

A few minutes before 11 am
on August the ninth, 1945
a man named Shigeyoshi Morimoto

stumbled from a train. As he hurried home
through the crowded streets of Nagasaki
a man named Ashworth told a man

page 114

named Sweeny, ‘Go ahead, drop it by radar.’
As far as I know, both men aged
at a normal speed. What is certain, is

so did Shigeyoshi Morimoto. Perhaps
he lived, because a few weeks before
August the ninth, 1945 (while kiwi

prisoners of the japanese—abandoned
by the angel of history—were
suffering severe alterations

to human flesh), somewhere in the mountains
west of Beijing, the whirling fragments
of a butterfly’s red wing

so altered the course of a summer storm
that when the materials of the bomb—plutonium
and berylium oxide—assembled

into a more compact
less leaky geometry

in which the neutron factor k

not only were the cells in position
restricted to a limited range of response
but also the planned drop point was

obscured by clouds, and ground zero by chance
was nine hundred yards further west from his shop.
Or perhaps he lived, because he recalled

page 115

a poem by Basho: ‘How wonderful, on seeing
lightning, not to think, Life, too, is brief.’
Or perhaps, there wasn’t a reason.

What is certain, is that a few nano seconds
after 11am on August the ninth, 1945
the man named Shigeyoshi Morimoto

convinced for two hundred and sixty thousand seconds
he would see it once again, once again
saw the blue flash, the pika; and as

the fast moving wind shredded the paper walls
he saved his wife and son by shoving
them both to the basement of his shop.

Of his three companions, there’s no report;
but for many years after, he lived and worked
in the city of Nagasaki; and while

he seldom spoke, he was always happy
when people flew his yellow and blue kites
‘in the same place, in yesterday’s sky’

letting their hearts quiver in the wind
which is a way of smudging the flash
while you live, as we do, in the radiance

of minus one millionth of a second