Hibakusha by Aviva Katz - Photo by Liora Meyer



Her3 head shakes sadly, Shikata ga nai (仕方が無い) 4
“We drove to Hatchobori, my son in my arms,
the car grew dark, I jumped into the sun,
there was no light, but the light glint of glass,
his skull a mess, my hands slick and wet.”

They say they saw a pika (ピカ)5,
and then一Boom!一they heard a don (ドン)6.
The towers screeched, shattered, became chips of china,
then all fell silent in fear and desperation.

He7 sighs at his nails, still black, still a kiseki (奇跡)8
“The river brought relief, cold pierced my scorched skin,
his soles were peeling, raw red muscle showing.
I made him crawl, we ran on our arms, our legs, our heels,
until we got home, bodies both cracked and wilted.”

They woke to darkness, silence, lumps in their throats,
the houses hung limp, now rubble flat on the floor.
Each foot pounded slowly to the beat of a drum,
drumming their funeral song and march to safety.

She9 watches her fingers, watches them dizorubu (ディゾルブ)10
“and then came the smoke, suffocating hope,
a whirlpool of fire, tornado of flames,
everything burned, everything dry,
and then the city’s black tears fell from the sky.”

Trapped by our mistakes, etched into every wall,
shadow silhouettes forever watching.
Unrecognizable faces, frozen in time,
their names foreign, but never forgotten.

1Japanese term for “explosion-affected people”
2Japanese numerals
3Eiko Taoka, then age 21, 750 meters away from the hypocenter
4Japanese saying meaning “It cannot be helped” or “nothing can be done about it”
5Japanese for a brilliant flash of light
6Japanese for a loud booming sound
7 Akihiro Takahashi, then age 14, 1.4km away from the hypocenter
8Japanese for miracle
9Akiko Takakura, then 20, 300 meters from the hypocenter
10Japanese for dissolve, melt, break down


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Aviva Katz grew up in Los Angeles, California, and graduated from Shalhevet High School. She loves to read and write, as well as draw, act, sing, and debate. She is passionate about Judaism, politics, education, musical theater, cats, and more.
Accompanying photo by Liora Meyer