At the Bomb Testing Site

Stafford, William

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jul-11-1994


At the bomb testing site, a lizard waits. It is expecting something, awaiting "something farther off / than people could see . . . . " The lizard grips the earth, "its elbows tense . . . ready for a change."


A 12 line poem that creates a single image: evil, human folly, and the potential for unlimited destruction are all evoked by the image of a lizard waiting tensely in the desert of "a continent without much on it." Is this the bomb testing site before the bomb explodes? Or is it the site and the continent after the bomb, when not much is left but lizards?

Primary Source

From Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems


Harper & Row

Place Published

New York