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If They Were Here

By Lu Mountenay, adapted–about those who died from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings

We try to remember, but we really don’t.
We were not there. Many of us were not born yet.
But their message is vital.
So we try to remember.
God must have wept hard that day — 
We can never know the terror and fear they suffered,
the physical pain and thirst and nausea,
the loss of family and friends, and hair and skin.
We can never know such disorientation and feelings of abandonment.
Blinded and deafened by the blast, they must have wondered
Why … why?

Never again. Never, ever again!

When we remember the lives of those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945,
We know we must act in their stead,     
Do the things they would do, if they had lived, if they were here.
Through photos taken long ago, we remember.
Through poetry, prayer, and the folding of the crane, 
through the lighting of the candle and the sound of the chime, 
through our ceremonies, symbols and songs 
our vigils and our votes  
our petitions and protest, 
through careful listening to Hibakusha survivors,
we continue the story so all can see, and all can hear, and never forget. 
Until the last nuclear weapon on earth is abolished,
this old scar will fester on our hearts.  We remember as if they were here.

(Note: Lu Mountenay, born May 11, 1949, died on April 21, 2019, of cancer.)

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Man hanging origame peace cranes.