The Planet Krypton

By Lynn Emanuel b. 1949 Lynn Emanuel
Outside the window the McGill smelter
sent a red dust down on the smoking yards of copper,   
on the railroad tracks’ frayed ends disappeared   
into the congestion of the afternoon. Ely lay dull

and scuffed: a miner’s boot toe worn away and dim,   
while my mother knelt before the Philco to coax   
the detonation from the static. From the Las Vegas   
Tonapah Artillery and Gunnery Range the sound

of the atom bomb came biting like a swarm
of bees. We sat in the hot Nevada dark, delighted,   
when the switch was tripped and the bomb hoisted   
up its silky, hooded, glittering, uncoiling length;

it hissed and spit, it sizzled like a poker in a toddy.   
The bomb was no mind and all body; it sent a fire
of static down the spine. In the dark it glowed like the coils   
of an electric stove. It stripped every leaf from every

branch until a willow by a creek was a bouquet   
of switches resinous, naked, flexible, and fine.   
Bathed in the light of KDWN, Las Vegas,
my crouched mother looked radioactive, swampy,

glaucous, like something from the Planet Krypton.   
In the suave, brilliant wattage of the bomb, we were
not poor. In the atom’s fizz and pop we heard possibility   
uncorked. Taffeta wraps whispered on davenports.

A new planet bloomed above us; in its light
the stumps of cut pine gleamed like dinner plates.
The world was beginning all over again, fresh and hot;   
we could have anything we wanted.

Lynn Emanuel, “The Planet Krypton” from The Dig. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992)

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Poet Lynn Emanuel b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lynn  Emanuel

Biography

Lynn Emanuel is the author of several volumes of poetry. She sees her Hotel Fiesta (1984), The Dig (1992), and Then, Suddenly— (1999) as a triptych exploring the convention and flexibility of the book, and the agency of readers and writers. As poet Eavan Boland notes, “Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement.”

The Dig received the National Poetry Series Award. Emanuel’s work has . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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