How Top-Secret Warheads Were Moved
Kathleen M. Heideman
Word of an approaching circus would have spread quickly.
No circus posters went up, but kids in every town along the route
whispered about convoys, spotted by a hired man
or the neighbors, passing: brightly painted trucks
like heat-mirages in the distance,
diesels rippling through dry hills and deserts on newly-tarred
two-lanes, preceded by clown-cars, blinking lights and WIDE
LOAD signs, loaded down with canvas tents and tilt-a-whirls,
dissembled fairways and Ferris wheels, calliope music
disturbing dark flocks of crows. Kids said there were
trucks with man-eating tigers painted on the sides, air-cooled,
with iron bars to keep the beasts from escaping.
Behind all this, grim carnies were sweating in the hot wake,
hands clenched as they drove, eyes bloodshot.
They never smiled when the trucks paused for fuel;
wouldn’t say where their mysterious circus was headed
or when the big show might finally begin.
(Circus poster from the Library of Congress photostream on Flickr)
Curious sidebar: I wrote this poem after a trip through the Dakotas, but Tonopah (Nevada) happens to be the site of a nuclear weapon test site (Sandia National Laboratory). The Tonopah test site is part of the greater Nevada Test Site, where nuclear devices were detonated in the desert, starting in the 1950s. Nuclear missile tests notwithstanding, Tonopah NV is considered one of the darkest spots in America, and a great spot for telescope enthusiasts.