Almanac Entry #218

Janet E. Irvin

Two days of cloudy skies and sporadic rain, then
the sun returns, sends a beam across the back yard,
fires the geraniums squatting next
to the blistered Charleston bench. Still cool,
low 60’s at 7 a.m. The early morning dip
a predictable lull before the dog day begins.
In the garden, asters stretch knee-high, the dogwood
sets spring blooms, petunias and begonias burn
calendar-bright. It is August 6, the day the United States
dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, welding
mankind to fire and fury, to rage and ash.
On my knees, weeding, I am caught in a firestorm.
As a child, I learned to hide beneath my desk,
to shelter if the sirens blew, to spy mushroom clouds
blooming in the sky-blue air. Now, as summer blazes
across the land, beauty erupts in black-eyed Susans.
The scarlet cardinal flashes. Terrible beauty
and beautiful terror, radiant as flame, sear the day.
It is August 6, too late to hide, too hot to pray.