nUkiEmOLe poetRy of Others #22/ 05 Apr 2021
May the book prove more powerful than the bomb
Two girls, all sun tan and leg walked past us; they were like all film stars rolled into one, so up-to-the-minute that they well may have been used for a poster depicting our sinful century, complete with a sputnik, a skyscraper, a coil of barbed wire, an ampule of penicillin, a hydrogen bomb and a book; the latter I hope will, in the end, prove more powerful than the bomb.
I nodded, realizing what he was trying to say. Then I asked what it was that had made him go into that particular department. He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s interesting work, blood diseases are something with a real future at the moment.”
“Because of radiation?”
“Does the same go for Kovacs’ disease?”
“It hasn’t been established for certain, but among radiation victims incidence figures are considerably higher – tests have been made in Hiroshima.”
What’s all that got to do with Yuri? I wanted to ask. When could he have possibly….The question would have been too foolish for a journalist and I refrained from asking it. Who knows at what moment Yuri would have taken that fatal sip of water or run across the street delighting in the warm rain?
What’s all that got to do with Yuri, he never worked with uranium?
What’s all that got to do with Yuri: but whom could I ask and from whom could I demand an answer?
From Enrico Fermi, that small Italian with the prominent forehead – a loyal friend, keen mountaineer and brilliant physicist who used up countless days and months of his short life to make the bomb before his fat-faced compatriot Benito Mussolini?
From that lean young American, Claude Etherley – the born flyer, who executed the President’s personal mission and dropped the experimental bomb directly on Hiroshima and whose remaining years were one endless cry – a desperate cry rebounding from platforms, the pages of newspapers, the windows of a lunatic asylum, where he was put away on pretext of state security, a cry to remind us all that once a fuse is lit it cannot be put out and that patriotism does not justify betrayal of mankind?
From President Truman who gave the order for the bombs to be dropped on two Japanese towns, so as to see what would happen, so as to put the fear of God into his allies – from President Truman, now an octogenarian dodderer, who more likely than not would die a natural death from decrepit old age and then be buried in some state cemetery to the accompaniment of a gun salute?
Thinking about Truman’s funeral reminded me of Kennedy’s – the coffin covered with an enormous flag, a white horse led along behind the coffin by an officer in uniform. The horse had not known it was a funeral, for him it had been just another pageant with marching soldiers, crowds and music…he had been leading the officer a dance, prancing so elegantly….
I thought to myself that that was how they would bury Truman, his coffin would be covered with the same flag and started cursing bitterly to myself. Surely history would not forgive him the lives of a hundred thousand Japanese swallowed up in that holocaust in the same way that it had forgiven the Caesars and the Napoleons all the death and bereavement they had brought on mankind?
…in the twentieth century old people have to get used to burying the young ones.
After all is said and done the depth of people’s misery cannot be measured by its causes.
Free love soon degenerates then into loveless freedom.
written by Leonid Zhukhovitsky
From Astride a Dolphin
Translated by Katharine Judelson
note: as suggested by Rick Rozoff, https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2021/04/05/leonid-zhukhovitsky-may-the-book-prove-more-powerful-than-the-bomb/