The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Jennifer Atkinson

Little Song on Hiroshima Day


I went to steal song from the trees
Semimaru plum trees

the war left untended
under the morning cloud sky

I remember the blue foggy-skinned
fruit like little mute bells

among the ringing cicadas
their wings like glass their eyes

when it happened
the ringing song stopped

when the sun exploded I thought the sun exploded

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to own a song to keep
to hang outside my window

in a bamboo cage
the green wands split and soaked to weave

a little cloud house where a song
could live a song

Seimaru as ownable
as a plum in my mouth

the fruit was ripe the song
clung to the trees the air the heat rang

how could a boy not be forgiven

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in the city behind the hill
I thought I was blind

a kind of blind Semimaru
sight severed from seeing

out of the river climbs a fish
out of the smoke a red not-fish

voice has left its body
fruit like mute bells

the upper branches
shook Semimaru I heard
the ringing a plum loose in my hand

the edge of the river smokes like morning

| |

seeing severed from sense
like the puppet’s voice

from the puppet
the gesture for sobbing Semimaru

lodged in the doll
the voice displaced to a singer off-stage

I never thought
it was not real

a fish climbs out
raveled and frayed

silk rags stuck to the wet

| |

clouds made of the shadows
plum trees

past their winter bloom in the dark
you can follow the fragrance

over the river the hill
the high grass

even at night
a balm don’t you wish Semimaru

a song
to keep in a woven cage

a cloud where a song is the sun




JENNIFER ATKINSON is the author of five collections of poems, most recently The Thinking Eye. She is on the permanent creative writing faculty at George Mason University.



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