It is official: there is now so much conflicting information about what is going on at the Fukushima nuclear power plants and how the numerous radiation releases will affect its people that I am moving my attention away from the screen and toward the hope that the containers holding the cores will not explode, that all four cores, or not even one core, will melt down. Instead of growing increasingly rattled by the contradictory statements from website to website, from sentence to sentence, from scientist to scientist, from article to article, from news agency to news agency, I am writing poetry about how it feels to be far away and yet very much not far at all from this place on earth most of us had no idea existed until a few days ago, these people who must be tested for radiation, who must ingest iodide tablets, who must not drink or eat the food that is growing around them, who must seal themselves in their homes and wait, wait, wait.
As I often do and have done, I turn to poetry for comfort and strength.
This is the Latest
Lobster in the bathtub. Christmas Eve.
Scrub the tub first. Hand off cleanser.
Rinse well. We don’t want Comet
in our lobster.
against the porcelain. Everyone leery
of going to the bathroom.
Bubbles had risen when we lowered him in,
now he’s limp.
Stare into the water
that wears a similar gooseflesh.
The lobster is dispatched.
* * *
Wrapping an oversized box
(a coffee maker),
can’t find a swathe of paper big enough.
Start to cobble bits together
with tape (ah—chitinous)
and the joints look like repeated segments
of a carapace.
A pilot blue glows. Haemocyanin—
a blood based in copper not iron
while the broth of something Provençal
sings from the pot, a little tomatoey,
a little stigma (not stamen) of crocus sativus
under the Star of
* * *
If the universe is—this is the latest—
bouncing between inflation
and shrinkage, as if on a trillion-year
pendulum, why wouldn’t
an infant’s sobbing, on the exhale,
have a prosody
as on the inhale have the chemistry
of tears and seas
or our bouillabaisse,
a primal soup contain
and nonspeech and raspberries—
in the briny speech stream
a scuttling underwriter?