The museum in Hiroshima

I have been to the museum in Hiroshima
You know which museum I mean
I saw photos there of the corpses
Piled up in the rubble
I saw the twisted girders of the city hall’s dome
The bits of glass and metal and bone
Fused into the pavement
The stopped clocks
The shadows burned into walls
I read accounts
Of mangled and dismembered bodies
Of corpses with melted eyes
Of skinless ghosts
Wandering through the devastation
Looking for themselves

I have read that in the new film
About the head of the project
To develop the atomic bomb
There is no footage
From Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Instead the film focuses on
The leader of the Manhattan Project,
Robert Oppenheimer,
Who had serious misgivings about the bomb
And after the U.S. used it twice
Regretted the program that brought the bomb
Into being

I am sorry for Robert Oppenheimer
Who was later suspected
Of being a Soviet sympathizer and possible spy
Who was stripped of his security clearance
And became a pariah in academia
But I do wonder why a film
About the man who led the development
Of the atomic bomb
Failed to portray the horrors
That the bomb unleashed
Failed to memorialize those incinerated
In one profound instant of human evil
And those who kept dying and dying and dying
Over the years

The director of the film has explained
That it is told from the protagonist’s point of view
Leading up to the completion of the bomb
And that Oppenheimer did not know about all the horrors
Until the rest of the world did
I must honor the director’s artistic decisions . . .
But I have been to the museum in Hiroshima
You know the one I am talking about

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.