After J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1904-1967
When he says, I am become death,
the destroyer of worlds, who exactly in the world
does he think he is? He has created
all fire and light and future
and suddenly the chance
that the future can go forever
up in smoke, as if time’s potential absence
has now been named. He is, he does.
He reels with giddy naming, solemn naming,
the stolen naming that becomes him.
The implosion becomes a star’s crater.
The desert becomes glass.
The impossible becomes the remembered.
The words shimmer and cut, radiant shards
from the mouth of decay.
Thank goodness he said something. Had he said
nothing, we would be left with the impression
that something could have been said.