Journal of Writing & Environment

Summer came early in the South Pacific: radiation burned the print of flowered dresses

into the Marshallese women’s shoulders.


Sunset came at sunrise—the Japanese fisherman aboard the Fifth Lucky Dragon

saw a great red sun implode the pastel waterscape.


What myth was this—this sun?


Coconuts that once took their sweet time dropping

fell all at once. They fell out like teeth, the islanders said.


Those would fall out too, like little browned stones

from a water-logged cliff.


Back on the mainland,

rock & roll jangled over radio waves


and made girls scream, like Chuck Berry sliding his fingers up

the heated neck of an electric guitar.


In the control bunker, orders played out over tiny screens:

Navy men watched the cloud glide outward


like the gauzy trim of a ballerina’s tutu. First came the Bravo! Bravo!’s,

then the dying clap and heavy curtain fall. Like seasoned surfers,


they watched the swell approach and waited for a sign—

ocean, atolls, palms, bones, nerves—all liquefying.





Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States. The bomb was detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.