Jacquelyn Markham, It Seemed a Miracle of “Snow”

It Seemed a Miracle of “Snow”

 for all the people of Rongelap*

a day in 1954 when Bravo, a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb,

detonated on Bikini Atoll & radioactive ash & coral drifted east


Ash and coral burst into the sky

swirled east of Bikini

frolicked in the eastern winds

fell to a child’s wonder in devastating silence

on Rongelap below

bits of ash and coral

coral from the morning sky seemed a miracle of snow

and like a rare snowstorm in the South

beckoned them to play    to laugh

to taste the powder on the sand

but unlike snow it wasn’t cool to skin

but as Iroji Kebenli found

it burned the skin right off

and as Lekoj Anjain found

to taste it made you very sick

and as Lekoj’s family found

it killed a young man as quickly as an old

Nearby the fisherman of Lucky Dragon No.5

their awe short-lived

not strangers to the bomb

lucky or unlucky survivors

of Nagasaki–Hiroshima

they prayed all night long for the fisherman who died

as if they sensed the omen

the day it seemed a miracle of “snow”

fell close to the equator

*an island in the South Pacific

Jacquelyn Markham


Finalist, Rita Dove Award, Salem College International Literary Awards, NC, 2012

Jacquelyn Markham, poet

Jacquelyn Markham, poet