Orizuru, by John Arnold





This poem by John Arnold was published in #Folio 73 in 2019

 Orizuru
 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 Hundreds of them,
 maybe a thousand or more –
 perhaps as many as those rainbows
 of folder paper cranes
 trapped behind glass:

 schoolkids – eight years old or less,
 with clipboards, quizzing foreigners
 on their attitudes to war and peace.

 And my daughter and I –
 seemingly the only western faces –
 are at once surrounded.

 Hello, how are you? (stiff bows)
 What do you think about war?
         Oh, it’s bad, very bad.
 Do you think there’ll be another war?
         I hope not.
 What do you think about nuclear bombs?
         Bad, very bad.
 
Still the children come,
yet still a tiny fraction of those
who vanished in a moment
of total light that August dawn.

And still they ask the same again, again.

I want those origami birds
to fly away, to flock and circle
the skeletal remains of that dome.

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