Good Afternoon, Poets! Frank J. Tassone here, hosting this week’s Haibun Monday. For those that don’t know, haibun is a form of Japanese poetry that combines prose, or prose poetry, with haiku.
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Last year, we commemorated this memorial for Haibun Monday (August 6, 2018). Just like last year, the city of Hiroshima will once again hold its annual Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony:
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held each year on August 6th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Some 50,000 local citizens and visitors, as well as ambassadors and dignitaries from around 70 countries, gather here to console the spirits of those killed by the atomic bomb and also to pray for lasting world peace…
…Remembering the 140,000 irreplaceable human lives that were lost, either on the day of the bombing or in the ensuing months, and the numerous atomic bomb survivors who still suffer from its aftereffects even to this day, one cannot help but be left with a strong sense of the horrors of nuclear weapons and a strong hope for world peace in one’s heart.
While the memorial commemorates the fallen, it is also an occasion to reflect on hope. Haiku poet Yasuhiko Shigemoto, whose haiku I shared last year, has written other Hiroshima-themed haiku that exemplify this:
A-bomb blast center,
the school excursion students
tolling the peace bell
New blades of grasses
the A-bombed earth !
this A-bombed tree
still alive !
Copyright Yasuhiko Shigemoto , 1995
Publ. : 2003-09-22
Upd. : 2018-11-30
Other poets have found hope in the horror:
By: William Stafford
From the sky in the form of snow
comes the great forgiveness.
Rain grown soft, the flakes descend
and rest; they nestle close, each one
arrived, welcomed and then at home.
If the sky lets go some day and I’m
requested for such volunteering
toward so clean a message, I’ll come.
The world goes on and while friends touch down
beside me, I too will come.
William Stafford (1914-1993) was a conscientious objector in World War II and worked in the civilian public service camps. Later, he taught at Lewis and Clark College and published more than 65 books of poems. In 1970 he served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
Let Us Be Midwives! An untold story of the atomic bombing
by Sadako Kurihara, translated by Richard Minear
Night in the basement of a concrete structure now in ruins.
Victims of the atomic bomb jammed the room;
It was dark—not even a single candle.
The smell of fresh blood, the stench of death,
The closeness of sweaty people, the moans.
From out of all that, lo and behold, a voice:
“The baby’s coming!”
In that hellish basement,
At that very moment, a young woman had gone into labour.
In the dark, without a single match, what to do?
People forgot their own pains, worried about her.
And then: “I’m a midwife. I’ll help with the birth.”
The speaker, seriously injured herself, had been moaning only moments before.
And so new life was born in the dark of that pit of hell.
And so the midwife died before dawn, still bathed in blood.
Let us be midwives!
Let us be midwives!
Even if we lay down our own lives to do so.
Sadako Kurihara (1913 – 2005) was a poet, writer and peace activist who survived the Hiroshima bombing. “Let Us Be Midwives” was based on her experience in a shelter in the aftermath of the bombing. (In reality, the midwife survived and was later able to meet the child she had delivered.) Translator Richard Minear is professor emeritus at UMass Amherst.
In four poems
Let us again write our own haibun to commemorate Hiroshima! This year, however, let us focus not on despair of nuclear holocaust, but on hope born of rising from the ashes!
If this is your first time, here’s how to join:
- Write a haibun that references Hiroshima or a related theme as described above
- Post it on your personal site/blog
- Copy your link onto the Mr. Linky
- Remember to click the small checkbox about data protection.
- Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work
- Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so
- Have fun!