(Xavier Laviron / Flickr)


“Their steadfast resolve not to speak of those who were to blame, not to say that the event had been caused by human beings, not to harbor the least resentment, even though they were the victims of the greatest of crimes—this really is too much for me, it passes all understanding.”
—Günther Anders, after his participation in the Fourth World Conference AgainstAtomic and Hydrogen Bombs


“Surpassing understanding,” Anders scrawled—
Survivors never spoke of fault or blame.
Blown mushroom clouds had grayed all wills away.
“Too much for me,” he told his diary.

When Anders searched their souls for discontent,
These Japanese acquitted all abuse.
Tsunami is the word the victims used
To name what happened at Hiroshima.

Hydrogen—imagine—“natural disaster.”
As though anatomies of moral ills
Split when men flowered the island with evil.
Such man-made blooms outsize the human scale.

In nuclear winters of the moral will
The windows’ frost hides housed and heated guilt.

Joshua Hren is founder of Wiseblood Books and co-founder of the MFA at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He regularly publishes essays and poems in First Things, America, Public Discourse, the Hedgehog Review, and LOGOS. His books include the short story collections This Our Exile (2018) and In the Wine Press (2020), the novel Infinite Regress (2022), as well as Middle-earth and the Return of the Common Good: Tolkien and Political Philosophy (2018), How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic (2021), and Contemplative Realism (2022). His first book of poems, Last Things, First Things, & Other Lost Causes, is forthcoming from Little Gidding Press.

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Published in the June 14, 2019 issue: View Contents
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