What if we really remembered, and could learn
the lesson taught us by the countless dead
of countless wars:
could hear the shrieks, the clamour of the dying,
the voices of the firestorm; could have caught
the whispered faint escape of terminal breath
deflating the body, floating out, blown atoms
carried across ages and continents? What if
we paid attention?
Originally published in I am not a silent poet
for the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
After the flash,
after the flaying of cities and forests from the land,
after the dying down of the firestorms,
only the unspeakable icy night remains, the louring clouds
It is the end of everything they know.
Those who are still alive lie in one another’s arms
waiting to die. It will not take long,
but it will be too long. Those who can still see or hear
lock their eyes shut, stop up their ears, in terror and despair,
but they cannot ward off the stench of hell, not sulphur
but seared flesh, marinated in mud and ashes.
Those who can still think
no longer have words to describe what has been done to them.
It is far, far too late for pity
Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and musician living in Aberdeen, appalled by the inevitability of climate apocalypse but kept sane by poetry, music and gardening. Her poetry is published in several anthologies and many online and print journals in the UK and further afield. Her first collection, The temperature of blue (Blue Salt Collective, 2020), is now available.