Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) Alain Renais directs this original screenplay by Marguerite Duras explores survivor guilt between a French nurse and a Japanese married man through their brief affair, tainted by memories of WWII. Using documentary footage of the aftermath of the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Renais suggests a collapse of love in the post-nuclear age.
Those who are left with skin
Caress each other’s beauty
As if a holocaust might return.
Grains of sweat bead each refugee.
They glisten along the arm and thigh
To signify smell or touch that cinema
With its male eye cannot supply.
Two outcasts grapple in the raw.
The French Nurse, whose hair grew back
After conviction as a collaborator,
In the pitch black rollback of a flashback
Married her German soldier.
Now she wanders city streets of Hiroshima,
Pachinko parlors, neon skylights,
Streets devoid of people, an outlaw
For a male body to warm the night.
The Occupation reconstructed hospital
Where burn victims are studied,
Where flesh became pure protocol,
Bears witness to American speed.
She wanders and needs to assuage
Through flesh what makes of race
Or nation some inhuman rage —
French with German with Asian embrace.
And yet, at end of day, she cannot recall
His name, nor he forgive her flaw.
His parting words to her appall:
“You do not know Hiroshima.”
[Disposable Poem August 10. 2016]