issue 24 > light verse > shepard
Uncle Arthur: The Nuclear Optionby Neil Shepard
Seabrook was his baby. His middle name was safety. He could clean his kid's diaper
or a nuclear rod at a moment's notice. He believed in Yucca Mountain. He believed
in a junkyard called outer space. His kids would grow up greener and wiser.
He was a Sunday painter. He loved the glow of sunset. Mountains moved him, mostly
ones of solid granite, far from a fault line. He was mild-mannered. Well-traveled. Wry-
humored. He could tell a joke that started with apocalypse and ended with zeugma:
the NRC met with the EPA and left the meeting in high spirits
and a Cadillac; the NRC met the NRA at a party and they drank
to their mutual security until they were bombed. Never mind.
He could order a boiled lobster and talk nuclear reactors in the same sentence.
He could write his name out of the history books if the cooling walls cracked.
He grew up on Three Mile Island, boned up on Alamogordo, toured Chernobyl.
He was prepared for a meltdown. He was the good Samaritan gone atomic.
He could hear the hum of atoms safe in their reactors. He could hear the hum
of children in their little bedrooms, busy as bees. He could hear the hum
of bees after nobody heard them. He had that kind of optimism.