Illustration: aurora borealis above nuclear plant

Postcard from Olkiluoto, Finland

It is cold and quiet here. I am sitting and drinking coffee, watching the lights from the power plants glow in the distance. Steam rises from my cup and the cooling towers and already the idea of warmth feels foreign. It is four o’clock, the sun’s egg has cracked and dropped into the dark. Under the earth, there are miles of tunnel cutting into the roaring grey rock of this island. They will bury thousands of tons of uranium there. This is the cost of splitting the atom, of making enough heat to move forward. I remember my fourth birthday, ice-skating in Maryland, your hand guiding me along the rink. Even then I would try to make my own way. Fission is a kind of violence— slow, secreting through the years. Unseen, it penetrates the skin and seeps into our cells. It seeps like whisked yolk in chicken broth, steam rising, you leaving the cracked shells on the cutting board, your hushed and halting voice on the phone, the loneliness you carried and would not show. This place is built to contain the past. When the last of the waste is stored, the tunnels will be collapsed and filled with rubble. The entrance will be sealed shut, left unmarked and forgotten. Love is a clumsy word for this forgetting, and I am still as small and mute as the day I was born. Above, snow pours over the dark pines and everything is white.

Polchate (Jam) Kraprayoon is a Bangkok native and works for an intergovernmental agency in Tokyo. He received a Master’s from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s at the LSE. His work has been featured in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Harbor Review, Meniscus, Portland Review, Barzakh, and Split Rock Review. He writes poems when he should really be writing policy briefs.

Aurora Borealis illustration by C.B. Auder (digital collage).

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