Poem by Michael Gallagher in memory of Hiroshima Day
With a flash that seared and blinded,
the blue August sky burst open
above the bridge,
a bridge, this time,
over the Potomac.
The Eumenides had never tired
though their pursuit had taken the
better part of a century.
Humorless as these ladies were,
they had no concern for
irony except as it might enhance
the vengeance that they were bent on.
One moment it stood gleaming
in all its lethal glory,
The next it was gone,
along with the Novaks
of Cleveland–Charlie and Fran,
Brandon and Haley and little
Campion, asleep in his stroller,
and Debbie, Charlie’s mother,
as she aimed the camera and said “Smile!”,
all alike transmuted to vapor.
Some of which
had lived and loved,
some of which
had been the Enola Gay.
Michael Gallagher, a coeval of Sr. Megan and a former Jesuit seminarian, served as a paratrooper during the Korean War. His book on Catholic activists, The Laws of Heaven, won the National Jesuit Book Award in theology in 1992, and his translation of Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow was a finalist for the National Book Award in translation in 1972.
The original title of this post was, “The Eumenides Visit the Smithsonian.” The Eumenides was the third part of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy, the Oresteia, in which, “Orestes is hunted down and tormented by the Furies, a trio of goddesses known to be the instruments of justice.”