Cyrus Cassells

Issue #
September 6, 2013

The Giveaway Trains

After the war, the best, the headiest charity,
was riding the far-reaching trains:

a Hiroshima boy
orphaned by the pika, the flash,

a vagabond boy,
was blessed with giveaway seats:

so a young, even jubilant Nobushige
journeyed in every direction:

north to snow-dusted, uppermost Honshu,
south to the sultry island of Kyushu,

replenished by elating horseplay,
chit-chat, comic books,

windfall lunch scraps from the plates
of fellow passengers—

winsome trees, breeze-rocked reeds, towns
hurrying behind him–

Sometimes he’d wake
in an unknown place,

jolted from a too-vivid dream
of Asa, his steadfast brother,

cleaning his fetid wounds:
day after day,

in the marred time
following the blast,

this is the ministering love
that kept him alive—

On a train whose fleet windows
cradle the greenest country,

a silver-haired Nobu shares,
with frankness,

his boyhood indignities:
his mouth suffused with dust

unsettled by the bomb;
his blackened body hauled

from home to intact home
until he was upright.

If they insist
his extensive burns,

the crushed city was meant
to save you—a barter,

don’t accept it:
for drought-long decades

you’ve waited to glean
a once-despised enemy’s trust,

waited for just this
persuasive gaze,

this annealing testimony,
this plangent alloy

of awe and truth-telling,
because, in the fierce annals

of less than and more than,
everything human must be described.

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