Thirty-six Years After the Nuclear Weapon Tests at Bikini

they were told to turn away from the blast, shut their eyes, and cradle their arms across their faces

he knew at one time
the way
of gentle men
at least on days bent over
coaxing green out of dry dirt
his cigarette hanging loose
from no-air purple lips
burn hole trousers
covering hips mostly bone
he knows
this is his last garden
maybe even his last chance
to take back
mean drinking days
love again the only woman
who stuck it out
be the father
he always meant to be
maybe even remember a time
before his eyes saw
an island
blown to kingdom come
his own skeleton
outlined in a mushroom cloud

After thirty years working as a hospice nurse, Maryann Hurtt is now retired and lives in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine where she hikes, bikes, writes, and reads. She is passionate about environmental issues. Once Upon a Tar Creek: Mining for Voices will be out this year. Tar Creek’s water is orange.

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