He was tall, strong, warped
by radiation into crankiness and behavior
that proved ultimately self-destructive.
When he stalked back into the ocean, I cried.
It isn’t just radiation
that warps a man to the shape of anger
and sets his feet down hard on the floor.
Or maybe we just haven’t properly categorized
guilt as radioactive. Smothered anger
as glow-in-the-dark. Nuclear fusion as a byproduct of grief.
Some nights all is well. We slurp up
our giant bowls of noodles and watch game shows.
We read Gengi and Shonagon to each other,
sip tea, comb our sand gardens.
Other nights: tight lips. Anger
like the rush of scalding water
from hidden underwater vents.
Rending of rice paper screens,
shredding the tatami mats,
pots of rice down on the floor,
Those nights I find myself
knee deep in salt water,
trying to keep him on land.
But tonight I want to turn,
lose my own shape in rough waters,
see if he is strong enough to stop me.