Half Japanese Buddhist Daughter: A Poem of Love to Mother.
Long before my mother was ever a child,
She sang love songs to the youth-birds
And sometimes offered dark tea and bursting fruit swells,
So that I could be born in the brightest of lights.
It must have been somber and beautiful still,
As she picked through the land as a poor laid-out girl
Cultivating crops that seemed impossibly dead,
While her torn skirts ruffled in dust and bloodshed.
Still, she whispered in dawn and at dusk,
That I would be blossomed and ripened one day
Still, she called out my name in the dark,
As if everyone heard her as if a keen lark.
With her brothers away for a trench-mouthed war,
Young sisters and mothers hummed and lifted
Pans and pots filled with heavy warm soups,
Awaiting a letter and a soft-glanced word.
Never a lyric was told for her pains,
As she walked liked a princess with nothing to gain
Never I watched her cry or gleam sorrows,
About such sad yesterdays, fears of tomorrows.
Whispering in tongues from a place in her heart,
My mother once told me about my place
I was dreamt of in slumber and kept of notes high,
My Eurasian eyes was her beaming joy-sky.
One day she told me while her face wilted strong,
That there was never a time I could not belong
Even though I cried lightly when called a half-breed,
She lilted and pronounced me a full-seasoned seed.
Birthed by two races, felt into my bones,
I carried all shadows of cultural tone
Yellow and white, the colors of spring,
The waxing and waning of all belonging.
At last my song of the half-girl is sung,
As I spiral it along for my mother’s face
At last I have wandered into the song,
That can only be hindered from too much grace.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Courtesy of Author