Our life is a fire dampened, or a fire shut up in stone.
–Jacob Boehme, De Incarnatione Verbi

Outside everything visible and invisible a blazing maple.
Daybreak: a seam at the curve of the world. The trousered legs of the women
shimmered.
They held their arms in front of them like ghosts.

The coal bones of the house clinked in a kimono of smoke.
An attention hovered over the dream where the world had been.

For if Hiroshima in the morning, after the bomb has fallen,
is like a dream, one must ask whose dream it is. {1}

Must understand how not to speak would carry it with us.
With bones put into rice bowls.
While the baby crawled over its dead mother seeking milk.

Muga-muchu {2}: without self, without center. Thrown up in the sky by a wind.

The way back is lost, the one obsession.
The worst is over.
The worst is yet to come.

1–…is the question asked by Peter Schwenger in Letter Bomb.
Nuclear Holocaust and the Exploding Word.
2–…is from Robert Jay Lifton’s Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carolyn Forché's poem The Testimony Of Light

2 Comments

  1. Gunnar says:

    This poem has now been edited to show its proper writer.

  2. Mars says:

    This poem is NOT written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti! It is written by Carolyn Forché.

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