"Mike" Test

Tyler Mills on

Published in Poem Of The Day

I was going to write about a crescent
of honeydew melon. An artist told me
she paints grids when she isn't
certain how to begin. A grid of steel

stores nuclear fuel below the surface
of pools in temporary rooms

with red railings. I glanced at one image,
then checked my email, my nightshade

tank top wet against the dip in my spine
you might like to touch

and say, Stop. Have a glass of water.
There once was a structure three-stories tall

built on an island Japan surrendered.
This building was a bomb.

At its center, liquid hydrogen filled a thermos.
We nicknamed it after an angel

appearing in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur'an.
Or maybe the name could have come

from a football player of the Fifties
we might remember on Trivia Night.

I think how hammers strike the thinnest
wires inside a piano. Hard.

Once, we evacuated the coral shore
my grandfather flew over

in a B-17-the typed label of his photo
half torn. The Department of the Interior

Master Plan shows where the people will live.
I swallow vomit after watching
the island wart into an orange bulb. Just before,
birds glanced off the shimmering water.

About this poem
"'"Mike" Test' refers to the first true hydrogen bomb detonation. Part of Operation Ivy, this test took place on Nov. 1, 1952, and vaporized the island of Elugelab in the Enewetak Atoll."
-Tyler Mills

About Tyler Mills
Tyler Mills is the author of "Tongue Lyre" (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013). She teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago and lives in Chicago.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.

(c) 2014 Tyler Mills. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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