It's been six months shy of a fated decade, to the day,
Since that diabolical, catastrophic collapse at Ground Zero,
And now, the world has been cast, once again,
Into the fiery maw of man's worst fears,
Forced to confront its collective fragility,
its voracious mortality.
But my initial reaction, impulse —
To liken this ominously metastasizing reactor disaster,
At the Fukushima I nuclear-power plant, to 9/11 —
Falls absolutely, unacceptably far too short of the mark,
Begs me summon the ghosts of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
Suddenly, from suppressed recesses, I recall the dream I suffered,
In sleep's no-man's-zone, just after midnight's groaning strokes
And just before five of that same a.m. —
September 10, 2001 —
In which I, a Japanese youth,
Feet anchored in Hiroshima's lunar surface,
Arms raised, beseechingly,
To a screeching, exploding, irradiating yellow-white sky,
Was trying, with all my focus, to catch, in my bare hands,
That plummeting dove of destruction unleashed by the U.S.,
Hoping to keep that crucible of unimaginable fissile atoms
From hitting my city, detonating . . . but I never did catch it,
For its bursting thousands of feet above my desperation,
Liquefying me and my fellow innocents,
Like so much ice on a sizzling hibachi,
Incinerating our spirits as if they were rice paper in a flame.
But even this 9/11 presentiment fails to justify my anxiety,
And I'm left with a vague prescience, a terrifying clairvoyance,
In which every single specimen of the species Homo sapiens
Is subsisting on an unlimited daily ration
Of iodine-131, cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-241.
Embracing the Great River Road
Sunday a.m. is the renascence of a new spring season,
An awakening, from blessed nakedness, into a graceful celebration of now.
It's an epiphanic expression of exultation and expectation,
Gratitude for another each-other's today we'll spend together.
It's an inhalation and exhalation of our hearts, beating in timelessness.
Soon, we're settled deep into the black-leather contour seats
Of our sleek, blade-silver-metallic Corvette C6 LS3,
Buckled up, poised to explore whatever may lie before us,
As though we're Lewis and Clark setting off on an intrepid journey
To map infinitum incognita's vast beyond.
Heading north, we clear the city's edges, speed east, north, again,
Before reaching Alton, where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers merge,
Then zoom westward, along the Great River Road,
Which stretches, cleanly, between Old Man, on our left,
And the chalky cliffs that, long ago, contained a glacier, to our right.
Our car is a magnificent piece of responsive physical design,
Hugging the continuously winding, super-smooth concrete,
Which begs us to caress its contours, at 60, 70, 80, 95.
Before we know it, we've passed Elsah, elided into Grafton,
And have stopped to have lunch, outdoors, at a Victorian restaurant.
Our conversation billows with the exhilaration we're feeling.
Neither of us has known such soul-freedom since we were teenagers,
In St. Louis and Brooklyn — thrilled children, giddy kids, really,
Tasting, for the first time in our juvenescence, the kingdoms of the world.
We can almost not control our overflow of emotions.
Then, once more, we're rolling. Now, you're in the driver's seat.
I love the way you take, so fluidly, naturally, to the paddles,
The ease with which you up- and downshift the six gears,
Playing the curves for all they're worth.
I'm completely relaxed and at peace, in your commanding hands.
I admire your focused passion, the unadulterated happiness you derive,
Driving with devil-may-care-carefree carefulness;
Indeed, I feel as though you and I are making deep-seated love,
Driving deeper and deeper into the deepest interiors
Of the depthless machinery that is our shared sensibility's engine.
One hundred thirty miles and five hours later,
We park, say good-bye to, for another structured workweek,
The exuberance our mutual childhood still elicits,
Which just transported us, so gloriously, so voluptuously, so lovingly,
On the wheels of this sunny spring Sunday afternoon.