Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist, at the time of the first nuclear detonation, known as Trinity.

There's a crazy rumour amongst the staff,
without any credence whatsoever,
that the bomb, when it explodes,
will ignite the hydrogen in the air
and destroy the whole world.
This has been aided by Enrico Fermi,
who, laughing, has taken bets
on whether it will destroy
the whole world, or just New Mexico,
terrifying, both those without a grasp of theory,
and those with the knowledge,
that a theory is just that.

Enrico says,
General, don't be annoyed,
if it doesn't work,
the experiment
will still be a success,
for, after all,
the best minds in the world
will have proved it impossible.
What could be better?

Enrico says,
When I drop these paper scraps,
Like so, see?
There is no wind.
Before the blast they fall in a pile,
pretty straight,
but, if I let them fall,
when I feel the shock -
the vibration of the bomb -
they will fall to one side, see?
2.5 metres.
It's an easy calculation.
The distance of displacement tells me.
The bomb, equivalent to ten thousand tons of TNT.
Simple. Science measures all, my friend.

After Trinity, driving home,
Enrico, who always drives, says,
would you drive, I feel a little shaky.

Bernard Sullivan © 1995

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