Remembering Japan

I was five years old.

Innocence was far off even at that age, though I didn't understand violation ... only the shame
worn like a girl scout badge
accompanied by the patch / of "witness but not understand" / sewed to my sash
bubble baths were wide eyed sessions
of floating and finding shapes in the ceiling
while contemplating the feeling of flying
and falling
and drowning
heart pounding as I held my breath / and let the last bubble of air escape my tiny chest ... and yet
somehow I would still float back to the surface.

My grandmother took me to Japan that year.
Despite my despair my imagination still painted in the colors of crayola
I still ran with open wings against the wind with my coat as my cape ... I still tried to escape
.. and I arrived at this place / that even my cartoon candied imagination couldn't create.
buildings looked like they were licked into shape
and the language had a taste that stayed on your tongue long after you spoke.
I learned songs to sing when i wanted to rejoice
and i did
with my shrill child voice ... in a bath tub as big as an ocean

I was an island surrounded by stained glass fish.

Obachan (grandmother ) took me the palace for the cherry tree blossom festival.
I was wearing a navy wool pea coat and matching beret.
My cheeks were marshmallows dipped in pink icing
my distended belly ... a laughable protrude... prevents me now from remembering my shoes...
but I remember the trees

Lord in heaven ... how did you make pink trees?

In this place greater than my wildest dreams ... astounded ... I wandered into the trees and let the breeze
blow around me
the cherry blossoms found me,
and welcomed me to their forest of forgiveness
I closed my eyes ... started to make wishes / and opened them to brilliant pink petals blowing about my face
until Japan ... my mind couldn't create the thought of pink rain.

even in my greatest imagination...

. . .

I was awoke by devastation
like much of my life / the island of my youth was ravaged by a tide / born by the shaking of the earth
I watched horrified at first ... then I swallowed a deep sorrow that sank into my belly like a prescription of reality with a chaser of tragedy
tragically, the zion of my dreams / made of pink rain and buildings like ice cream
was being devoured by the raging sea ...
there was no singing...
only screams.

. . .

Obachan and I sat beside one another with bated breath
I shuddered at her helplessness ...
even as a grown woman, somehow - my grandmother seems invincible
she over comes her frailty with a surly gumption
that would require a recipe of somethin' / like
one part impossible, two parts dignity
a pinch of never surrender, season with "no quit in me" ... often served with a side of careless ignorance...
but helplessness
is not Ii flavor I favor for my grandmother, no ...

yet we swallowed it whole
and waited for the phone to ring
knowing it could bring / good or bad tidings
just like the tide brings
unto the island an' / we hold out breath and wait ...
come what may.

. . .

the phone rings sunday night
and my grandmothers voice sounds giddy ... childlike
and she delivers good news that our family is safe.
We rejoice and congratulate and exhale.
. . .

Right now... the shore line is non-existent
but like a child chasing butterflies ... I will gather all my wishes
and cast them from the net with furious insistence
that God allows Japan to emerge amongst the stain glass fishes
singing in the pink rain


if you can find in your heart to give to Japan, please do so
salvation army link