would always live in my nervous system, a needle with Mama's voice. 19
"A needle with Mama's voice": this is a striking, resonant, and paradoxical phrase. If it represents the self-suspicion and the gnawing sense of fear that present the major psychological obstacle to writing for a female survivor of internment, it also represents a source of wisdom passed on from the mother, the useful survival skill of memory. It is a speaking needle, the constant reminder of a narrative which resists the forces that would silence it, but which must also acknowledge its own incompleteness, its own suppressions and suturings, its own internal silences. The needle jabs, but it can also be turned to mending and to creating. For Yamada, writing, rediscovering, adding to, and publishing "Camp Notes" meant acknowledging the "needle with Mama's voice" in all its contradictions.