for my students
Infrastructure flattened out below us like a human arm trussed. The Guadalupes, the Gulf, the Chihuahuan Desert, the cities, roads, lives all the intravenous scrawl of civilization and wilderness. Flat as sand beneath a boot, we are unaware of our eyes above—the program filters & algorithms buzzing like background radiation. We spend the afternoon reducing ourselves to blast shadows & fallout, selecting megatons & blast radius: ten miles, twenty-five miles, fifty
miles, one hundred miles.
With the wind just right, our atoms cross borders without issue, reach as far as Durango; there are no boundaries when you are the pulse of the bomb. We neglect my curriculum for makeshift apocalypses & pale horses & lines of code. Fat Man, Little Boy, Castle Bravo, Ivy Mike, the names of our steeds, the names of the host we take beneath our tongues, the tonic against our all
too obtainable doom.
We can kill ourselves over and over & never die. I should tell them that Calvino wrote that the more civilized the house, the more ghosts trickle from its walls. Ours is a house constructed entirely of ghosts. I click, we die. My students take turns clicking. We die. Our infinitesimal bodies vaporize into dust, glass in the heat, scatter across the impact basin like light screaming across the lake of the crater where Oppenheimer passed from scientist to psychopomp. We are all
siblings by the ruin we all carry in our blood.
I do not know what to do when my students leave for the day. We have made our lives thin with all the ghosts we’ve conjured. I watch from my classroom’s window as they split from one another. Climb into cars. Spark engines. Drive, walk, or skate away like so much fine dust. Unhurried shades. What was left behind to live out this aftermath
—the awful hope of it,
the vibrant wreckage.
C. Samuel Rees is a Pennsylvania-born, Austin-based teacher and writer who subsists on a steady diet of ecological texts, Sci-Fi, and contemporary poetry. His work has appeared in The Bat City Review, The Fairy Tale Review, Grimoire Magazine, The Account, Phantom Drift, and elsewhere.