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Post Road Magazine #32

Return to Atomic City

Nancy Dickman

One day I return, standing
at the house where my father hunched
over the periodic table and my mother scrubbed
the sandstorm's grit
from my face.

The tour bus drives through Hanford's acres, past
the cocooned cores, past the B Reactor
in whose tall rooms plutonium was rushed
for the second bomb, falling
so quickly on the heels
of the first dead.

The bus heaves
past the sacred rolling mounds
the tribes call Mooli Mooli,
pausing at the subterranean
storage tanks. Here radioactive waste crosses
the boundaries of its metal shells,
slipping into the earth.

Nightfall, and the moon flares
like a spindle of fire on the river.
I plunge my hands beneath the surface
but nothing washes off,
the hot particulates long ago
burrowed into me.

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