While they waited for the weather to turn, Fermi
offered wagers on the odds of igniting
the atmosphere and destroying the earth
or just New Mexico. Teller made them nervous,
slapping on the sunscreen. Oppenheimer
wore dark glasses like the rest
and held onto a post with damp hands.
He had ten dollars on them failing.
In the control centre, Allison counted down
5-4-3-2-1 NOW! They shielded their eyes
against the flash then saw the mountains lit up
clear as noon by the orange-yellow fireball
that mushroomed blood red to pink
at ten thousand feet before it dimmed.
When it was over they blinked at their blind spots.
Isidor Rabi passed the whiskey. Bainbridge said
Now we are all sons of bitches. Oppenheimer smiled,
strutted into base camp in his wide-brimmed hat.
By night, rain was falling with the dust
and next morning they saw, all around
the green glass crater, in every section
of the Jornada del Muerto,
dense fields of black-hearted sunbursts,
blossoming between the mountains.
(previously published in Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word, Bloodaxe, 2010)
From your bed, noctilucent paths
are rambling, one of which could lead
through the Tudor knot of yew hedge
to that rose arbour at its centre
where white-slippered sleep is breathing.
Simple to untangle one path after the next
if you still had all night, but fat mice
are eating through the blue and green wool
with which the maze is tapestried.
Though tawny owls, silver-beaked, dive
to unpick the plump bodies, bursting
every pink and yellow cross-stitch,
you’re still awake at dawn, tattered
in your threadbare nest of bones.
(previously published in Bird Book: Towns, Parks, Gardens and Woodland, Sidekick Books, 2011)
Rowyda Amin was born in Newfoundland, Canada and now lives in the USA. Her pamphlet Desert Sunflowers will be published by Flipped Eye in 2013.