America, you flexed your nuclear
muscles in our direction 1,054 times
over the length of my father’s short life.
1,054 catastrophic blooms
shattering the desert floor,
confounding the waters and the heavens.
It took us years—decades even—
to realize the full arc of our swoon
before you, America. You buckled
your own soldiers down in the trenches
repeatedly. They prayed before you
and you revealed their hand bones
glowing beneath their skin. Pigs squealed
in aluminum barrels all around ground zero.
Ranchers wept before discolored cattle.
You strolled onto playgrounds waving your
Geiger counters over children frightened
by the arrhythmic crackles and clicks.
America, your mouth was one round
radio speaker repeating over and over
that you would never harm us as you
stroked your two-headed lamb and
straddled your babies. My father
was so small when you began to powder
his milky teeth and bones with your radiation.
It drifted across the southwest as quiet as pollen
while his body swung through time like a net
gathering up your shining particulates
until one day his DNA lit up
in a conflagration of letters. America,
the last time you flexed your nuclear muscles
in our direction, my father was almost dead
from cancer. You called your final test
Divider and never once looked back.
Still, he believed in you
until his last monitored breath.
America—face resplendent, amber eyes
blazing—my father’s ruination. When he died
his curled hand looked like it still
clutched at your garment’s bright hem.