Thursday, November 12, 2009

Szilard Loved Utopia

He called you Moonlight, when he brushed his face against your cheek; his chaste gesture held more longing than a handful of kisses.  "Your skin is like moonlight," he'd say, tracing the almond shape of your eyes, and staring close in, in wonderment at the shape of your eyelids, then laughing.

"What are you laughing at?" you asked him.

"I just feel so happy that I can stare at you now," he'd say, as if your love had already been sealed and given over to the commitment and vow of marriage.  At those times he truly seemed contented.

With a world falling apart, and the adults, parents, teachers and all the rest working tirelessly to plug the holes in the dyke, you hid your friendship, and denied even to each other the fervency of your desires.  He met you in the graveyard, where the last remaining rational people in your town lived, and laid down amongst them as much in hiding, and in comfort, as for pleasure.

You lay within his arms, and when he finished inhaling your scent and staring at your glossy wet eyes, he looked to the sky and asked, every time, questions about the sky.  Your father had taught you all the stories of the constellations.  The myths of the hunters, the sisters, the scale balance, and the warrior.  And you would recite the stories again with your hand aloft and pointing to the slowly turning sky: black but punctured by a world that wanted in to the district of this darkness: a small patch of shadow in a solar system of sunlight.  He'd reach up while your hand swept the universe, and touch your arm.  And sometimes when you finished a story, you'd wish to see his face, and tears would be wet upon it, which you could not help but rub with your fingers, and touch upon your lips.  On such evenings the the two of you would come dangerously close to talking about some memory of pleasure, which had for so long been denied you.  As if the promise of his tears and your gleaming eyes, had somehow reminded you of a world where you both were not slaves to the insane adult world.  Where gravestones were mere chairs in which sat the lively ghosts of persons who had only known happiness.  A complete impossibility for the townsfolk alive, and yourselves.

All to soon the warrior, and his starry belt, had crossed the sky, and he would say to you, "I cannot look upon your face again tonight, for I must go, and you should too.  I cannot look at you." He hurt you a little with an embrace as desperate as it was welcome, and picked you up off the ground, and without a goodbye, walked back toward his home.

As you walked you thought of the larger world, knowing nothing of it really.  Except the awful looks on your parents faces when they read the paper, and listened to the radio.  Something terrible was happening; was going to happen; and surely already had.  You could not remember the last time you had stood beneath the cherry trees, you mother smiling in an unmistakable ecstasy.  When had your mother last smiled at all?

Four days later...

The boy who called you Moonlight was killed that morning, beneath a mushroom cloud above your home, Hiroshima.  All anyone knew, among the living, was a new normal of hunger, thirst, fire, and, probably most of all, death.  The pressing night sky, your hand up in the heavens, and the feeble thought that you are beautiful, died with your first love.


(This is a true story, of real children. She is seventy four years old, and lives at home, with her children, in Hiroshima, Japan.)

(Leo Szilard, a physicist, was standing at a stop light, in London, and when the light turned green, it matched one in his head.  At that moment he was the only man in history who had even the slightest notion of what a nuclear chain reaction was.  The reason:  it had just occurred to him at the stoplight.  Szilard was a very committed optimist, and believer in world government.  He believed the chain reaction would be used industrially.  Six years later, "she" lost her love, and Szilard, more or less, got a glimpse of the closest he'd ever come to Utopia, which, to his credit, he suffered for with the remainder of his days.)

4 comments:

Ande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ande said...

You show brilliantly that one way or another, all events of the world has meaning not only in itself, but to people far away (even time), in ways we never could have guessed. I think it also is one of the very fundamental reasons why we sometimes should bother to survive; reasons to strive on sometimes show up from unexpected sources. I guess this is a romantic notion.

Most people are desperate romantics, don't you think?

Harlequin said...

I like how you have woven history image, and breath-taking, haunting, tenderness.

Honey P. Amplegood said...

hm.