Don’t go to the shadows without water she said
I have tried to erase him for sixty-four years and my wrists are tired
I have scrubbed the shadow of my son so he could be buried at last in darkness.

Don’t go to my son without removing your shoes
I have tried to bathe him with prayers and carbolic but he only gets blacker
I have lived for ninety-nine years and starlings are beginning to land by my feet.

Don’t wind the paralysed clock it is rebuilding the world with scorched hands
I have tried to turn back time but God will not allow it in Nagasaki
I had tried to make another child but gave birth to black water.

Don’t tell them my name and look me in the face when you see him
I have tried to understand why ink is only spilled by vaporised kin
I have tried to write a haiku for the willow which strokes my son.

Don’t disturb my son when the raven plays in the shape of his shadow
I have tried to shoo it away and it quarrels with my broomstick,
I have tried to tell my son that he was ten yards from living.

I have tried to feed a Nagasaki starling when it drank the black rain,
I have tried to get it to sing so the shadows could be comforted,
Don’t disturb my grave and desecrate me in shadows.

By Antony Owen


Antony Owen was born in Coventry, England to working class parents who worked at the famous Jaguar car factory. He is the author of four poetry collections with further work also translated in Dutch and Japanese anthologies by Poetry International (Europe) and Coal Sack Press (Japan). His work generally explores identity and consequences of domestic and international conflicts. Following a trip to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors, Owen was one of a handful of people appointed as a CND (UK) Peace Education Patron. In 2017 Coal Sack Press (Japan) will be publishing and translating his fifth collection of poems titled We Are Made From Beautiful Atoms. Owen advocates the overlooked and forgotten people through his work.

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