Nagasaki Crows

“It          remains possible to believe there
was          nothing anyone could do about
the          melted bottles, burnt coins etc … as for the
corpses          lying in the streets and wreckage
of          Nagasaki, we tend to forget how
the          body resists history; we pretend that
Koreans          look different, or
that          victims are all the same, even when they
remained          silent, we could hear their voices,
scattered          across the unbelievably blue sky, hanging
in          trees, or from twisted crosses, populating
the          horror invisibly, keeping time, giving
ruins          a human aspect, a curtain of dead flesh
longer          than a shroud, sadder
than          silent bells, more dignified than
any          surrender, never to be buried like the

One          day we shall know their names, the
reason          for their being there, that morning. Death
is          just another criminal, an adversary
that          does not need a motive,
although          we may wish to assign it one. The
many          cries, the stunned desolation of this
Japanese          port town in the moonlight – its
people          scattered like broken glass. Even the walls that
survived          bear shadows like execution drawings, and inside
the          museum, the pathetic legacy of
atomic          testing around the world lingers. We`re still
bombing,          while they sue for peace. Of course, it`s
very          hard to know who suffered the most. Was it the
few          who remained to bear witness, or the
Koreans          who disappeared? It`s hard to know what exactly

There          among the dead horses and railway girders,
was          an abandonment of sanity, from which
nothing          could be salvaged, despite the crows
we          saw circling in the blood red skies. After this,
could          anything grow from evil? There was nothing left to

Crows          are sacred in many cultures. That morning, as they
flew          about, making their raids, we sat with our heads
down          between shame and annihilation. Meaning existed
in          their grim and tidy circles, their flexing
flocks          and dusted beaks. They grew fat and sick
from          the flesh of the Koreans. We watched
the          dim carnival play itself out, while the
sky          burned into stillness
and          the shrieks grew faint. Scarily, we
ate          rice cakes sent from surrounding towns, as
the          rare medics wandered about dispensing water. Our
eyeballs          remained fixed in a groundward stare. Out
of          nowhere, the crows came again, seeking
the          remains, the plastic souls of those
Korean          dead with no names. They were no longer simply

They          became ghosts that haunt our city still. We
ate          rice cakes that may or may not have carried
the          radiation. Meanwhile, the crows continued eating those poor Korean

*”Chrysanthemum and Nagasaki”, Michiko Ishimure

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