Nuclear Testing at Bikini Atoll, Photo and Video Records
I want to touch the cloud made by the first test.
In the second, streams shoot out of the column of water like a punk collar,
as if the bomb goes around quoting Lou Reed to the steady waters:
Rock & Roll is so great, people should start dying for it. Moshing the planet. The flash of light
making the sun feel like the second prettiest woman in the room.
In seconds, a dome of water rose like shaving cream,
clearing the reef’s legs of ships and fishermen.
The bomb’s trying to clean up its act. Start fresh.
But the worst was yet to come.
The largest bomb was like glass being blown. So yellow, we knew it was sick.
When you put your hands over your eyes, you saw your bones in your hands and in your fingers.
In the aftermath, the irradiated dandruff of the bomb fell on the reef’s shoulders, and when she tried to shake it off, the kids thought it was snow and opened their mouths to the sky--
The first quote is sourced from the book, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. The second quote is sourced from an interview with Wayne Brooks, a gunner’s mate aboard the USS De Haven; he’s commenting on a nuclear blast at Atoll, which he witnessed from 20 miles away.
-- Natalia Prusinska (she/her) is a queer poet, author of the chapbook, Hard Jolts of Hope (2021), and associate editor at Belfast Review. Her work has been featured in Hooligan Magazine, Storm Cellar, High Shelf Press, and elsewhere. She lives with her partner in Los Angeles.