For Louis Slotin
About suffering they were never wrong, the old comics:
Dr. Manhattan's accident a perfect recreation of Slotin's,
poisoned before his frightened co-worker's eyes.
Here's the drawing of him holding his screwdriver, tickling
the dragon. Oppenheimer would complain about his pangs
of conscience, the images of his friend haunting him.
They could imagine what he described: the sour taste
in his mouth, the pain in his hand, and they could still see
that blue glow around him, feel the heat wave
from beryllium meeting plutonium core. His retching,
then nine days of futile blood transfusions.
"A bomb putter-togetherer," he called himself,
though the bomb would take him apart atom by atom.
After this, they began to use robots; they wanted to find a way
to keep a man's hands from touching the demon core of this dragon.