Summer Comes to Chernobyl
by Janice D. Soderling

The only sounds are the sounds abandoned
in flight: a muggy wind whines through
chinks in a blistered fence, then slips
under a doorsill, inquiring; a tedious
branch beats muffled as a drum; in the
weed-choked garden, distorted heads of
cabbage march alongside withering vines
of cucumber; the rustle of roaches at
their feast, sly squeaks of rats, the
grunts of wild pigs joyfully grubbing
the poison earth; not a whimper from
the children’s graves.


Janice D. Soderling won first prize in the Glimmer Train Short
Fiction Competition in the summer of 2006.  Her work is currently
online, forthcoming, or archived at
Innisfree Poetry Journal,
Barefoot Muse, Loch Raven Review, Shit Creek Review,
Umbrella, Fickle Muses, Smoking Poet, Lucid Rhythms,
Flashshot, and Beloit Poetry Journal.  Soderling, who is a
commercial writer/editor for the business sphere and academia,
was born in the United States but lives in Sweden.

On “Summer Comes to Chernobyl”:
Radioactive emissions carried by wind and heavy rains caused
a significant percentage of the Cesium-137 released in the
Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986, to fall on the northern
coastal and inland areas of Sweden, and on southwest England
and Wales.

A decade or so after the accident, I heard a radio discussion
concerning the correlation between the Chernobyl fallout and
a high incidence of deformed children born in England.  The
program took root in my mind and, as I recall, provided the
impetus for this poem some months later.

I believe that a majority will choose not to read a poem that
smacks of propaganda.  Nor do I wish to be associated with the
writing of propaganda.  I am, however, concerned about the
on-going breakdown of our planet, including nuclear emissions
and waste disposal.

A recent study indicates that Swedish children born in the
months following the Chernobyl disaster suffered mental
impairment from the radioactive fallout.  Another shows a
statistically determined correlation between radioactive fallout
from Chernobyl and an increase in cancer cases in the exposed

The UN estimates that the consequences of this fallout will not
be fully seen for another 50 years.  

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.