Poetry Wednesday – Still Working on the Sadako Poem

So, here I am still working on one poem.  It’s a good exercise.  I’m terrible at multi-tasking, I prefer to have one task to work on at a time, so working on one poem seems to be working for me.  Here’s the next iteration of the poem.  I think it’s too long.  I think it has three themes and I’ve started working on turning each theme into it’s own poem.  However, please feel free to let me know what you think!

Statue of Sadako Sasaki in HiroshimaWhen I was a kid I was terrified of the Bomb
We were all terrified of the Bomb
By 1981 the United States had something like 23,000 nuclear warheads in its possession
The Soviet Union had about 32,000
Enough to destroy the planet over and over and over and over
We all knew what would happen if the Bomb got dropped on us
Anyone within a two kilometre radius would be instantly vapourized;
     lucky if your shadow remained burned into a wall
Anyone within a three or four kilometre radius would be horribly burned,
     clothing burned away, flesh cooked as if by a thousand suns
If you were lucky enough to be more than five kilometres away
     you might live unburned
     but you would probably have radiation poisoning
     and die a slow death by leukemia
We all knew this because there were things you knew
     in the eighties.
Our parents had done ”duck and cover” drills in the sixties
     during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Our grandparents witnessed the birth of the Nuclear Age
     with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens
Hiroshima was never a word I associated with a city
     only with the Bomb
When I was eight my hero was
     Sadako Sasaki
I read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” about that many times
A lovely tragic heroine
     made sick by the bombing of HIroshima
Sadako began her quest to make one thousand origami cranes
     the legend states that if you make one thousand paper cranes your wish will be
     granted
Sadako did not make one thousand paper cranes and died of leukemia at twelve
     induced by exposure to nuclear radiation when she was two
We all wanted to make paper cranes
     and wished for peace
I was still terrified of the Bomb
I couldn’t make paper cranes
     chubby fingers
By 1983 the Cold War nuclear arms race was in full swing
The United States was testing its cruise missiles everywhere
     unmanned rockets, highly efficient deliverers of nuclear warheads
That year saw the largest protest at
     Greenham Common in the UK
For a few  years I’d been hearing about the Greenham Common Women’s Peace activists
Nuclear disarmament activists
These women camped out all around
   Greenham Common Royal Air Force Base
Protested the testing of cruise missiles by the United States Air Force
I didn’t know much about them then,
     but they were a constant in my formative years
Every few months there would be a story about the
     Greenham Common women and their  years-long protest
In the end the most dedicates of them spent nineteen years
     living in campers outside the air force base until the missiles were
     taken away and the testing program stopped
But when I was still a girl
     ten, eleven, twelve
Thousands of British women were spending their days and months
     protesting the Bomb
     protecting their children
When I was twelve I protested the Bomb
In 1983 the Canadian government agreed to allow test of 
     cruise missiles at the Canadian Forces base in Cold Lake, Alberta
     just about 450 kilometres north of my home in Saskatoon
The Bomb was at my back door
My baby sitter learned of a protest in the park
     there was a march
     people with placards shouted things
     there was a life-sized cardboard mock-up of a cruise missile
We wrote messages of peace to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
     and tucked them into the fake missile that was sent to Ottawa
We heard national NDP leader Ed Broadbent say things 
     and Premier Alan Blakeney said things
Then I went home
I was still terrified of the Bomb
I still couldn’t make paper cranes
Like the women at Greenham Common
     I gathered in solidarity with others who valued
     peace and health and community
     over fear
Though I think I’m still afraid of the Bomb.
 
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