Social Studies

by Felix Jung

Mr. Crumley pulls the shades and tells us
stories: the war ended with a bang and
a whimper. Both bombs were given names
as though this would make them feel more
like people. Fat Man and Little Boy, a pair
of tourists from the States, father and son.

He raises his hand, palm to face, and says
There are five rivers near Hiroshima, his fingers
spread. We hit the middle. And for a moment
he is frozen in a smirk, a lone middle finger
pointing at the clouds. We laugh in howls,
clutching our stomachs, covering our mouths.

There are other stories. Blindness. Thermal
burns. People disappearing in a flash, leaving
shadows on the roads. What makes us
shudder are the ones who live: naked children
with blisters and sores, backs stripped of skin,
muscles opened to a world composed of dust.

We watch an ancient film that day, soundless
slow motion. A cloud grows on a stalk, the top
folding into itself, into the sky. Someone says
mushroom, but I see the start of a spine, a white
column of vertebrae. Two gray lobes, separate
hemispheres. That part of us that remembers.

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