Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Fukushima Winter

The same pervasive fearfulness
a wave draws, or begins to draw, when it draws
itself, though it fails. I’ll call it Self-Portrait
of a Murmur. Self-Portrait

with Broken Nose and Black Eye. Landscape
Inside an Icy Flame. And the boy I was,

perishable, holding in his hand the dark
we had traveled by bus to the maple farms upstate to see.
My reflection warps across these sculpted rocks, as it did
on the darkening buckets of apples in the winter light.

The light, the sea, lashed the toppled shore rocks green
cold and volcanic indigo across the jetty. The same
murky iridescence glassing the marina, blackening
the bay. I’m looking for my shape,

my effigy. Dark-skinned, orphaned,
alone in Fukushima Daiichi failed reactor number 4,
curiously barefoot, down from the mountain
prefecture. Look at me, in these sickle-lipped waters,

a boy with an apple in his fist. Octopus,
the color of night-pomegranate? Literal
heart, with its gray, dangling valves? We want
to love. We don’t know how. Each wave

a gaping mouth, or slurred urn.
And if I carried the apple home

I got sick. And my mother stood over,
blinking, like a vigilant bird. And my father,
while I slept, lay his hand across my fever, leaning
fearfully, awkwardly down
to speak some final word. My omen. A name.  

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