Friday, August 06, 2021

Lola Koundakjian: The Hiroshima Project

Click here for the audio segment only of The Hiroshima Project read by the author, Lola Koundakjian.


When I returned from Japan, a young acquaintance of mine said, “You went to Hiroshima? So, you’re been exposed to radiation!” That was the meanest thing anyone had ever said to me.

Lola Koundakjian

I went to Hiroshima on December 6th, 2005.
Sixty years after the artificial sun.

I arrived amidst snow showers,
To witness a destroyed city reborn.

When I informed my mother of my plans
She asked if I was depressed.

I told my travel agent I needed
To go to beg for forgiveness.

Not that I pushed the button
You didn’t push it either
[But] our collective unconsciousness did.


In an exhibit in this city*
I had seen the melted glass bottles

The fused coins and the frozen clocks.
There I saw much more,

Hollowed statues of Buddha
Images of people with burns

Their skin branded if
They wore patterned clothing

Wrist watches became microwave ovens
killing people with radiation sickness

Hiroshima’s boulevards today bear witness
To the shadows of humans who left by evaporation.

Statues erected by benevolent associations
For volunteer doctors and nurses


The roads leading to ground zero and the Peace Dome,
The only building still standing after the Atom bomb.

The Memorial cenotaph, the eternal flame and the Peace Bell
The museum filled with teenagers from nearby towns.

This was not an easy visit, nor should it be.
I walked to my hotel in silence.


Lola Koundakjian

The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breast-feeding their babies.

NY Times, Wed, January 20, 2010 book review of “The Last train to Hiroshima” by Charles Pellegrino, reviewed by Dwight Garner.



Dream&Science Factory said...

Still we need words,tile after tile, to keep our memory alive.
They can organize people's dead all around the word, at least they may know that we don't forget.
Thanks Lola, Ricardo

Noxalio said...

Lucid, somber
and humane.

Memory is a tricky thing--
so is story telling.

Thank you for the reminder.