Mitsuyoshi Toge was born in Hiroshima in 1917 and was in the city when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. He died twelve years later. Toge wrote this poem about what he saw on that August day; it is taken from Hiroshima-Nagasaki: A Pictorial Record of the Atomic Destruction (1978).
How could I ever forget that flash of light!
In a moment, thirty thousand people ceased to be,
The cries of fifty thousand killed
At the bottom of crushing darkness;
Through yellow smoke whirling into light,
Buildings split, bridges collapsed,
Crowded trams burnt as they rolled about
Hiroshima, all full of boundless heaps of embers.
Soon after, skin dangling like rags;
With hands on breasts;
Treading upon the broken brains;
Wearing shreds of burn cloth round their loins;
There came numberless lines of the naked, all crying.
Bodies on the parade ground, scattered like jumbled stone images of Jizo;
Crowds in piles by the river banks,loaded upon rafts fastened to the shore,
Turned by and by into corpses under the scorching sun;
in the midst of flame tossing against the evening sky,
Round about the street where mother and brother were trapped alive under the fallen house
The fire-flood shifted on.
On beds of filth along the Armory floor,
Heaps, and God knew who they were …
Heaps of schoolgirls lying in refuse
Pot-bellied, one-eyed, with half their skin peeled off bald.
The sun shone, and nothing moved
But the buzzing flies in the metal basins
Reeking with stagnant ordure.
How can I forget that stillness
Prevailing over the city of three hundred thousands?
Amidst that calm,
How can I forget the entreaties
Of departed wife and child
Through their orbs of eyes,
Cutting through our minds and souls?