Guilty Conscience of Hibakusha

Danielle Eschedor

A scream erupts from my chest through my throat

as a samurai sword rips through the belly that held you for nine months.
Hot acid burns through vocal chords that haven’t sang a note
since the day the sky rained hell.

This is not a labor of love,
not like the hours I spent dragging you into this world,
nor does routine dull my pain.
The fire inside my womb will not die
like the flames that consumed our lives
before we could even scream.

These images do not come and go like the pain –
your tiny shadow print on our concrete porch,
your favorite doll under a twisted metal chair,
the rubble like charcoal vomit in the dirt,

They are my torture,
worse than any radiation sickness.
They are my identity,
branded into my eyelids, reminding me
that I couldn’t save you.