The treacherous Jornada del Muerto,
Path of the Dead, spreads white sands before him,
a young man who loves the quiet cleanliness
of the desert. The quiet cleanliness of the desert
desecrated, he drives an abandoned road--
potholes, stubby poles, sagging wires--
with a key. A key for the padlocked gate
stamped “Property of the U.S. Government,”
multiple languages, skulls and crossbones.
Skulls and crossbones hiding the Trinity Site,
man’s great insult to the Earth.
The Earth scarred by heat, cratered--
as seen from space, a lake jade green half a mile
wide. A lake jade green, the afterbirth
of a man-made fireball, a mushroom cloud,
sand sucked into its mouth, heated to 1470 Celsius.
Heated to 1470 Celsius in seven minutes,
an alchemical mixture of sand, weapon tower,
bomb, liquefied and rained down.
Liquefied and rained down as new substance,
bright by day, dull by night—trinitite.
Trinitite. The virgin green glass the young man
has come to harvest at the first Ground Zero, to return
for burial at Los Alamos, site of conception.
This poem originally appeared in Echoes of the Cordillera, ekphrastic poems in response to the photography of Jim Bones, co-edited by Lucy Griffith and Sandi Stromberg
Jim Bones is a well-known photographer and conservationist of the Western Cordillera. He has published several books of photography, among them Echoes of the Cordillera.
Sandi Stromberg has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize as well as for a 2020 Best of the Net. Her poetry currently appears or is upcoming in The Ocotillo Review, San Pedro River Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Visual Verse, Still the Waves Beat, Texas Poetry Calendar 2021, Purifying Wind, Snapdragon, and Brabant Cultureel (The Netherlands). As the editor of two poetry anthologies, she has been honored to feature the work of other poets.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: