A is for Atom­­–An Instructional Film (1952)

by Annette C. Boehm

A giant of limitless power, at man’s command.
We found him in the head of a pin. In a pincushion.
In a sewing basket. In ships and shoes and ceiling wax
and cabbages and cranes.

Neutrons are crab apples stuck in cosmic glue.
Isotopes are siblings and spouses.
Tin is the old woman who lived in shoe; aluminum
a bachelor with a fridge full of leftovers. Radium
dances all night to shrill jazz. She is a little kid
on speed. Shaking Protons. Letting her hair down.
Changing suits, shoes, hats, tails,
going to bed with a different face.

The Uraniums dance, their jigs not quite matching, and
finally, they blow a fuse. Their breakup wakes up
the whole block. They have found a solvent for the ties
that bind flesh to flesh, birds to a feather, storks to one another.
Words travel, a wildfire, a ping­pong ball in a land
of mouse traps. A million billion billion lovers
split up within two seconds.

This is far from impossible. It could happen
in locomotives, submarines, large airplanes.
Think atomic escalators. It would take the entire
Yankee Stadium filled with dynamite
to create the same measure of commotion.

 

Annette C. Boehm is a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Writers of the University of Southern Mississippi. Her chapbook “the five parts of love: confabulating sappho” is available from Dancing Girl Press. She’s originally from Germany.

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