All Burning

She folded herself
into a small package, legs and feet
under her body, words
even smaller.

She carries
a message. In a language
I don't understand,

she tells us about parents,
about their small, folded children
all burning, red-orange and pink.
Of course, somewhere in all this
there is a flag.

You could say
her voice is like a bird on a high wire
in strong wind
she tells us
this story,

I've made this story thousands of
times.
What happens to a person's spirit
who must carry such words,
fold them smaller, each day, smaller?
What must happen
when they fly away?

EDWARD A. DOUGHERTY is a resident director of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan.

August 6, 1994, is the 49th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. While the world focuses on whether North Korea has the capacity to develop one nuclear warhead, the United States maintains 17,000 warheads equivalent to the explosive power of 284,000 Hiroshima bombs. Even with proposed treaty reductions, by 2003 the United States will still maintain firepower equivalent to 107,000 Hiroshima bombs.

The Editors

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Sojourners Magazine August 1994
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