Nagasaki Rain

1 February 2014

Silence is always audible through the noise,
it’s your watching soul
disturbed. The buzzing city is a laminate
pressed upon awful stillness. You arrive
among a Ninja whispering of rain
under a riot of tyres at
Victoria Inn, 6-24 Dougashou.

In this lobby they’ve buried the body of the desert
in art deco
plush English furniture complete with upright
Agatha Christie phone – you’re in the Cotswolds
not Nagasaki
till in reception Japanese are bowing
as in the days of Queen Victoria,
when smuggled guns began this sad relationship
with high explosives.

In the lift’s quietness you ascend like God, aware
of an itchy skin rash on your ankles. Hotel soaps?
Room 412, you splash on lotion, rub it in
hang your soaking socks over the towel-rack,
then step into the shoes
of invading armies back five hundred years
that burned across Japan’s most Christian city.

Jesuit footfalls in the aisles
of this painted wooden church, modern veneer
on Armageddon. At Ground Zero you stand
before a high blackened chimney, potent as
a crucifix.

Peace Park down the road, a shuttle-shuffle place
with photographs in tiers of floors to terrorise
the human spirit into peace while, blocks away
devotees hover in pachinko parlours
firing exploding rounds like they’re in Moscow,
New York, London – not in a nuclear graveyard.
The rain has stopped, the desert’s everywhere.

What do you do when you’re bombed back to the Stone Age?
You bury and rebuild, and learn to love
baseball. Now, in the silent lobby, waiting
for the bus, you’re thinking it could be
yesterday, or Nineteen-Fortyfive, serene,
two minutes past eleven.

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