Cathedrals

They stand black against the white bluffs
     rising beyond the river, monuments
          to miracles we performed
in their deep blue pools. Atoms flashed
     apart. Wonders appeared
          over cities in a distant land.

Their purpose complete, we encase them
     in stone. If you follow this road
          due north, you’ll find
the old school facing the water. Tumbleweeds
     flit by its empty windows like neutrons
          dancing toward their new life.

Wind and soldiers have taken the wood
     from homes left behind
          to make way for all this science.
Submarines rust in pits.
     The salmon don’t run. There are no
          signs to explain what this place means.

That shimmer you feel on the wind,
     the way the ground sometimes shudders —
          the power we achieved
in those black buildings hangs in the air
     and lingers in the soil. Out there on the horizon,
          they will remain when all of us are gone.

Read about the experience that created this poem in “Stuck in a Hanford reactor building elevator.”

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