After a photo by Kikuji Kawada

The jacket once worn
by a middle-school boy
lies flattened and seared by
a large white X,
one of its diagonals a chain-pattern
flung across a fainter line of light,
intersecting where the boy’s
heart would have been.

Other visitors in the museum
move on to photos of scrap metal
from the strike zone,
while I stand in place, silently weep.
My grandson is
three years old.
Maybe the boy in the summer
jacket had twelve or thirteen years.

Boys his age all over Japan
cleared firebreaks
after the U.S. firebombed Tokyo,
days before “Little Boy”
was dropped. That morning
did the boy start to
dig a trench
near the chained gate?

Did he hack at the knotweed
surrounding his house?
Did he plan
to take his little sister
down to
the mochi shop afterwards
to get a chilled sweet?

One button on his jacket
is missing, one pocket gone.
Other scorch marks, a line, triangle,
broken whirligig splotch his jacket.
I can almost hear him
in the threads of his summer,
the sleeves of his days.
The boy could be my own.