Girl Flying Kite • Nancy Lewis

We have to imagine
she had flaws, the girl
whose shade is blasted forever
into Nagasaki stone. She was doubtless
less beautiful than the outline
suggests. Red Atoll — as she was
known to her friends
for the portwine birthmark
on her left cheek —
was looping out string
to her dragon kite
when she heard a dizzying drone
in the sky and raised
her left arm to shield
her eyes from the sun, so
that when the print was made,
she was posed in a double salute. To tourists
who view the artifact of the Atomic Age
today, the girl's right arm is a compass
pointing due north, and if one's eye
follows the line her arm makes,
one sees the pure afterlife
of a mountain capped with snow. Seen
from far above the earth, the mushroom
cloud containing the molecules
of the girl must have looked
like a giant knob opening
the door to a roomful of human horrors,
lives no more than scraps of paper
to be wadded up and tossed
into a corner trashbasket.


Nancy Lewis is an award-winning journalist, award-winning poet and college professor currently residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.