Emily Parke , Editor

My whole world is collected here under Okinawa’s sun,

six million miles above the ground, radiating through 

thin white clouds to a land burning 

with life and heat and family. 

Green and bleached brown fields flattened by a farmer’s thumb 

have paths trodden by slick, muscular water buffalo, 

ropes and sun-spotted hands weaving them between 

sand-colored Humvees dozing loudly on the road. 

The day before a summer typhoon the sky turns dark-orange 

like a molding fruit and the buffalo groan and the humvees stir and 

my family cranks the engine 

of a green truck and zips down to Ginowan Prefecture 

where small gray boxes pile on top of each other and 

Ogichan and Obaachan’s house sits stoutly on 

a small plot of land sprouting 

sweet potatoes, goya, sugarcane, broccoli – 

at the first crash of dry thunder 

the Yakult man rumbles into the driveway of dirt and pebbles, 

a little motorcycle with a plastic basket 

filled with sixteen cold bright bottles 

sealed with shiny aluminum caps.

Gulping down the sweet pink yogurt

the TV baseball crowd roars in crackly excitement

and my grandfather sneaks in a perspiring bottle of 

Orange Crush, pours my American father a hissing glass 

as if to say thank you for stealing my daughter,

please enjoy this carbonated beverage – 

because it isn’t enough that my mother sits

neatly folded, clean white posture like a paper crane 

and takes in their words, irons them out, 

unrolls them from a softer tongue than both men 

intended, a tired half-smile always upheld

for my sister cradled in her arms. 

I spend every minute scooping up all of the 

sharp and shiny sea glass fragments 

of their conversation for a later, 

dumber day when I’ll use them 

to cut and sting. 

How do you like the mess hall food?

Did you hear about the soldier raping a Japanese women 

last weekend, and

did you go to the fair?

See the dragon boats? 

Did your children like the temple?

What is a Bell Boeing 

V-22 Osprey

and why did you name it Osprey when 

it can’t even fly? 

When will your children speak good Japanese? 

Maybe when 

every new American home isn’t mandated a small 

square black sputtering box TV that only plays 

one fuzzy-sounding show about a 

Modern Stone Age Family! 

and legs crossed on a hard purple carpet 

we wash away the Mudsy-Mudsies 

of speaking Japanese and exchange it for 

rations of the English language. 

Tomorrow, my mom will watch Tōhoku unfold 

with painful concentration,

tracing her relatives’ names 

down the yellow list of casualties – 

and selfishly I will wonder

if I can trace myself back to them, too, 

and say that it makes me Japanese 

to suffer the tragedy.

But tonight, 

in the roaring sea of lush forests that are everyday 

more alien than plant-like, 

a light, cold rain begins to 

drizzle onto the tatami mats.