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!When 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.
Poetry Wednesday – Still Working on the Sadako Poem