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"Moon Rise" by Andrea Rich

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Aimee Mizuno

Knowing

Did you know sadness, Grandfather?
Never speaking of the battles and blood?
Captive in Burma for months.
Not knowing when you would return.
Did you know brutality, Grandfather?
Did you use it? Was it used on you?
Were you a witness?
You went carrying medicines and healing tools.
Were you ever healed?
Witness to deaths.
Your returned to marry.
Carry on in peacetime.

Does sadness pass on?
Where do the tributaries begin?
Did your father know sadness, too?
Your children carried the same stones.
Which passed on to us.
When cancer came
you took to bed, face bloated and yellowed.
You wrote with brush and ink.
Ikasareteiru.
I am being allowed to live.
My father came by plane.
You recognized each other.
Then, you passed.
Leaving us to wonder
all that you knew.


Stories

Three stories tall, green and white Victorian,
rotting porch floor, windows worn and chipped,
vacant of our stories, now.
Great grandmother May gave birth in my bedroom.
Her journal hidden under the floorboards.

My brother's baseball games blare from the radio.
Roasting garlic and curry wafting up the stairs.
Doko in iru?
Nikai da yo!
We called to eachother.
Story to story.

Dog house resting on the porch.
Neighbor's murmurs seep through walls.
Wind whistles through the cracks in the back door.
Open it and the river breeze rushes -
rushes in with the green:
oaks, maples, pines, grasses and buttercups.
Secret clubs meet under pine trees.
"Save the Baby Animals Society"
"Farm Troubadours"

River rocks rest in our palms.
Tide low, we watch sailboats bob downriver.
Dinner bell sounds.
Leaving, returning.
Story to story.

 

Masako

You, who were seen,
But not heard.
Who coooked,
Filled water buckets,
Suckled children,
Kept shop,
Slept lightly,
Bore the brunt of
Commands
Of a father in-law and husband.
The jokes
And the disdain.
You, who bathed last
In luck warm,
Scum filled water.
No one to scrub your back
Until the skin turned
A grateful red.

Masako,
You carried a child on your back
As the warplanes
Dropped bombs
On the streets of Yokohama.
The conflagration
Swallowing the screams.

Masako,
You were married late
To a soldier just back from the front.
Older, handsome but often stern
And quiet.

You mended your children’s clothes.
Stitched rags
And old kimonos to make
Coverlets.
Watered the gnarled bonsai
Even after your
Husband’s death.

When I told you
How awful
To always be commanded.
You searched my young face
And said:
There is no shame
In serving others.

No shame
In serving.

Masako,
You survived all
Who ruled your life
Except for the children.
Now, you are served,
As you should be.

Masako,
You are seen and heard.

And now I serve
Daily
With my words, my hands, my voice
I am proud
And bear no shame.


Tanka Poems

Brush Painting
Strokes on rice paper
My grandmother takes a brush
Light as an insect
The images that form
Will last for generations.

Planting
Hoe will strike the ground
His hands dig to the right depth
Seeds dropping like rain
Kabocha, eggplant and kale
Life, precarious, and free.

Aimee Mizuno graduated from Wellesley College with a bachelor's degree in Japanese Studies. For the past ten years she has worked in early childhood and elementary education in Massachusetts and California. She holds an elementary teaching credential and a Master of Arts in Education from California State University at Monterey Bay. She lives and works in Watsonville, California.

Fiction
Vinnie Hansen
Helene Simkin Jara

Poetry
Jeff Burt
Patricia Grube
Peggy Heinrich
Robin WT Lysne
Aimee Mizuno

Morton Marcus Poetry Prize Winner
Marsha de la O


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