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Monday, May 16, 2011

Chernobyl Year - Poetry Foundation - Pick of the week

This week CLRI has selected a poem Chernobyl Year by Jehanne Dubrow from Poetry Foundation, which promotes the campaign the American Life in Poetry initiated by Ted Kooser, United States Poet Laureate, 2004-2006.


Chernobyl Year by Jehanne Dubrow

We dreamed of glowing children,
their throats alive and cancerous,
their eyes like lightning in the dark.

We were uneasy in our skins,
sixth grade, a year for blowing up,
for learning that nothing contains

that heat which comes from growing,
the way our parents seemed at once
both tall as cooling towers and crushed

beneath the pressure of small things—
family dinners, the evening news,
the dead voice of the dial tone.

Even the ground was ticking.
The parts that grew grew poison.
Whatever we ate became a stone.

Whatever we said was love became
plutonium, became a spark
of panic in the buried world.

Author: When I (Ted Kooser) was a little boy, the fear of polio hung over my summers, keeping me away from the swimming pool. Atomic energy was then in its infancy. It had defeated Japan and seemed to be America’s friend. Jehanne Dubrow, who lives and teaches in Maryland, is much younger than I, and she grew up under the fearsome cloud of what atomic energy was to become.

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