For Whom the Tiger Lilies Toll
by Steven McCabe
Jumping at the sun,
Singing to my mother,
Your jitterbugging effervescence
Seen in the rear-view mirror,
In the light of
The tragic reversal of
The destruction of the Bikini Atoll
By American nuclear testing for war preparedness
And the subsequent starvation of relocated islanders,
As well as the irradiation & poisoning of the native, original environment.
Intersected, by the frolic of
Designed & sewn by a Parisian –
Shall I editorialize,
Paraphrasing Yeats: Rag & bone shop
Of the physical,
Fashion design house
The blast psychology of the atomic bomb
Within & upon
Contemporary, popular culture,
Mirroring the undoing:
Alchemical atomic nothingness unleashed
Fauna and flora, coral & the seabed…
Only one year earlier
Undressing & disintegrating
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Introduced to the public
Five days after the blast
On the Atoll.
My mother adored Tiger Lilies.
My brother delivered her ashes
Into a forest,
Spreading them across the roots and moss –
Shaking her into the wind –
Planting again her Tiger Lily bulbs,
On the West Coast.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Original photograph by Grahame Garner (1964) of women with a Ban the Bomb banner in Brisbane, Australia.
I do not own copyright to this image and have altered it for purposes of non-commercial commentary under fair use provisions.