Academic journal article Field

Unfinished Poem

Academic journal article Field

Unfinished Poem

Article excerpt

We waste nothing, turn scraps

into feasts of loaves & fishes: shredded,

pot-pied, spaded into soy-struck rice. You

had to teach me:

in shielding me

from her own childhood my mother instilled

a distaste for thrift, the scum

boiled out of bone. For me she wanted

abundance; if there were leftovers

she ate them herself.

You learned economy

from your father

his childhood under occupation, the streets

like nicked & blackened bones. His father

hauled crates of matches

& sugar deep into the country

to trade for potatoes & rice.

The crates

their own kind of abundance-a gift, extra

rations from an Oregonian sergeant

who didn't know what Nisei meant

but recognized the authenticity

of your Ojii-san's Portland accent.

One of those strange recursions of labor,

of downturn & family history: Japanese,

American. …

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