Returning to Earth

When Emperor Hirohito announced
Japan’s defeat over national radio,
his divinity was broken, fell away
and settled in fine gold dust at his feet.
His people understood the gravity
of the occasion—a god does not speak
over the airwaves with a human voice,
ordinary and flecked with static. A god
does not speak in the common voice
of the earthbound, thick with shame.
At the station, my mother, a schoolgirl,
looked on as men in uniform lurched
from the platform into the path
of incoming trains, their slack bodies
landing on the tracks without sound.

Mari L’Esperance, "Returning to Earth" from The Darkened Temple.  Copyright © 2008 by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska.  Reprinted by permission of University of Nebraska Press.
Source: The Darkened Temple (University of Nebraska Press, 2008)
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