This report was censored by General MacArthur (according to this report on /.). Some things should be told. The horror of Nagasaki is one of them. I still think that dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the right thing to do at the time. I firmly believe, that we would not have used those weapons if there had been an alternative that would have saved more lives, both Japanese and American. But, in dropping those bombs we took on a responsibility that remains with us until our Empire falls. We have a duty to understand what it was that we did that day in August 1945, and a responsibility to make sure that no one ever finds a need to use such a weapon ever again. Weller’s report serves as a reminder to us of that duty.
In fall, I read a beautiful poem on the bombing of Hiroshima that moved me to tears. I imagine that most of my friends look at my love of poetry and either laugh, or chuckle, but like this story by Weller, poetry has a power to inspire us, awe us and humble us in the face of things that we were not able to experience first hand. In my mind, reading poetry is just as important as reading books, in some ways, even more so.
Below is the aforementioned poem by Ronald Wallace (via this site, reposted here for reader convenience).
“The Hell Mural: Panel I”
Iri and Toshi Maruki are “painting the bomb.”
Their painting, they say, will comfort the souls of the dead.
“It’s a dreadful cruel scene of great beauty,”
Toshi says. “The face may be deformed but there’s kindness
in a finger or a breast, even in hell.”
The Hell Mural spreads over the floor.
Iri stretches naked on the floor,
painting. He remembers Hiroshima after the bomb–
the bodies stacked up, arms outstretched toward hell,
nothing he could see that was not dead,
nothing that cared at all for human kindness,
nothing that wept at such terror, such beauty.
Now a brush stroke here, a thick wash there, and beauty
writhes and stretches from the canvas floor.
He wants his art to “collaborate with kindness,”
he wants his art to “uncover the bomb.”
But no lifetime’s enough to paint all the dead
or put all those who belong there in hell.
“Hitler and Truman,” he says, “of course are in hell.”
But even those of us who live for beauty
are in hell, no less so than the dead.”
(He paints himself and Toshi on the floor.)
“All of us who cannot stop the bomb
are now in hell. It’s no kindness
to say different. It’s no kindness
to insist on heaven; there’s only hell.”
Toshi adds bees and maggots to the bomb,
and birds, cats, her pregnant niece, the beauty
of severed breast and torn limb on the killing floor.
“In Hiroshima,” she says, “we crossed a river on the dead
bodies stacked up like a bridge. Now the dead
souls must be comforted with kindness.
Come walk in your socks across our floor,
walk on the canvas. (A little dirt in hell
almost improves it.) Can you see the beauty
of this torso, that ear lobe, this hip bone of the bomb?”
Iri and Toshi Maruki, in “Hell,” are painting the bomb,
the mural on their floor alive with the thriving dead.
Come walk on their kindness, walk on their troublesome beauty.