Some Thoughts on Building the Atom Bomb

A Poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

October 5, 2017  By Gabrielle Calvocoressi

I would not have been great at it.
Firstly, I was terrible at science.
I got as far as slicing the frog’s abdomen
open. Then I made an excuse
and walked the halls till the bell rang.

I know what you’re thinking.
That’s Biology. When I looked inside
the cavity I knew I didn’t have what
it took. For a life in science. God,
I have intestines like that frog. They pulse
and shine like his. Cut me open

you’ll see my supper too. No.
When I looked inside the cavity
I thought, “I can’t go on.” Volition.
That’s a thing I don’t have. I’d
leave the patient on the table
rather than get the job done.
I’d walk right into the desert

and roll around like a chinchilla
while everyone else back the office
is considering implosion. “I’m dusty
as a chinchilla!” I’d say, entering the lab.
“I’m the outside of your Mama’s fallout shelter!”
Those poor scientists. Every last one
wondering what I’m doing there.

I mean. I’d love to see the sky bloom
but I can do that already. Look:
the sky’s blooming right now
outside the window. And plenty
of people are dying in various ways.
And won’t the infrastructure fail
all on its own? Without me building

a bomb in the desert? These are the
kinds of questions that make me know
I’m not fit to decimate the planet.
Which is sort of sad to think
about. All that potential I’m just
giving up on.


From Rocket FantasticUsed with permission of Persea Books. Copyright © 2017 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of two previous collections. Her poems have been featured in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New York Times, and Washington Post. She is Assistant Professor and Walker Percy Fellow in Poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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