Pearl Harbor

by Elizabeth Colen

My brother once stapled a girl’s arm to her sleeve.
Remembered for holding his breath,

once breath stopped, the memory was gone.

In the quarry pit he sank into a hole.
The bleeding was simple.

The minutes ticked and we were with him.
Red on roses, blue barrette in her hair.

There are no screams under water.

There is nothing to hold onto that looks like us.
There is only what’s left in your lungs.

Elizabeth J Colen is the author of prose poetry collection Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books 2010) and fiction chapbook Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake (Rose Metal Press 2011). She edits poetry at Thumbnail Magazine and occasionally blogs here.

There’s a timeline in the Biblical Book of Genesis, and the final day, the creator rests. In your poem, there isn’t a final day of rest or rest at all. What is created in your Genesis by the end? I’m working on a manuscript investigating 20th/21st century conspiracy theories. “Genesis” means to reference FDR potentially having prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Several poems in the manuscript also serve as anchors that echo current or recent events, such as here that more recent attack on American soil (though the “narrative” of the quarry mostly subsumes all of that). It also parallels my brother’s disappearance. That’s a lot to ask of 75 words; what I hope is created is the raw emotional thrust that links the events. The Genesis in the title is a tribute to my brother who as a child only listened to rap music and Phil Collins.

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