Back to Michael Wendling's Artist PageTo the Artist's Page     Back to the Unlikely Stories home pageTo our home page
Dawn at the Salzgitter-Bad Train StationTo Michael Wendling's next piece

Who's Afraid of the Atom Bomb?

It was a sunrise such as the world had never seen, a great green supersun rising in a fraction of a second to a height of more than eight thousand feet, rising ever higher until it touched the clouds, lighting up earth and sky all around with dazzling luminosity kept shooting upward, from deep purple to elemental force freed from its bonds after being chained for billions of years.
--William L. Laurence, Dawn Over Zero
Brig. General. T.F. Farrell, chief of the War Department's atomic bomb mission, reported tonight after a survey of blasted Hiroshima that the explosive power of the secret weapon was greater even than its inventors envisaged, but he denied catagorically that it produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity in the ruins of the town.
--The New York Times, September 13, 1945
For no apparent reasons their health began to fail. They lost appetite. Their hair fell out. Bluish spots appeared on their bodies. And then bleeding began from the ears, nose, and mouth...
--The London Daily Express, September 5, 1945
Sometimes at night I would hear a noise
and wake up and think hard about ground zero
about five miles away and ten.
And likely targets and where I was.

The next morning I would sip
a cup of tea in the kitchen and ask
people as they came in and out
if they heard that noise
"Oh, at about one o' clock last night."

Then I started sleeping with her.
She laughed at my paranoia, but,
"I'll let you worry about your health if
you let me worry about nuclear weapons."

The planes would be at it again.
Night exercises.
A war was on.

Sweaty arms, stopped heart.
"What's wrong?"
"Oh nothing."
Checking for my pulse. Looking
out the window for the bright cloud in the sky.

The next morning in the kitchen,
"Oh, I know it's not in vogue to be scared of The Bomb.
That was an 80s thing."

But they're still there.
They're still on top of missles
Being shipped by trains.
Slipping into the hands of who-knows-who with triggers intact.

In the night, I listen,
check for a noise, a shape,
bleeding from the nostrils,
her pulse,
a deafening roar, a bright flash,
a burst of window, door, wall,
then nothing.

To the top of this pageTo the top of this page