Philip Metres

Hiroshima: A Panorama (August 1945)

The old scrolls were opened
but never all at once,
so the eye would wander
over the course of months
each inked and painted shrub,
each circuitous path,
and never know where
it might lead—so hangs back,
rests awhile in thickets
of this imagined world,
a landscape where only
a hand-span unfurled
at once, and soon, the left half
would disappear, a new
half, always facing east
would swim into view.
Here, the panorama lies
whole, defeated, splayed
wingless on the wall—
the modest houses
mere footprints, suggestions
of foundations, trees
stripped to the dead trunk,
and you hardly notice
the slight shadows leaning
down the main road,
as if drawn to something
that cannot be found
by the naked eye, scanning
from such distant height
the landscape all at once—
a single instant of light.

Philip Metres
Hiroshima: A Panorama (August 1945) first appeared in New England Review, Volume 25, Number 4, 2004.