The Atomic Bomb Man by Guinotte Wise
A heavy chunk of molten glass, a pound or two,
the exact color of a vintage Coca-Cola bottle
catches my eye, on the kitchen counter,
by a seltzer bottle clad in chrome
They say such glass was everywhere after the
first atomic bomb test in New Mexico’s
desert, the sand heated beyond belief.
Another unbelievable byproduct.
My stepfather worked on The Manhattan Project
and secrecy clouded everything.
From then on. But he was cast in brittle glass
before that. Translucent.
And in that sinister corruption of a snow globe
I see my mother drinking cocktails
served on the hood of Liberace’s Cadillac at a
pre-dawn postwar prelude to another atomic bomb
tested outside of Las Vegas.
She died of cancer in ‘79 and some of us
wondered if the tests could have...but where does
that sort of thinking lead? A class-action suit, maybe.
The atomic bomb man remarried.
He had lots of money by then.
Shake the misshapen snow globe for all it's worth
Don’t tell me if I’m in it.
Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Six more books since. A 5- time Pushcart nominee, his fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. (Until covid came along) Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com