Listen: I can almost hear
the sea galloping below.
The trail winds down
through the Douglas firs,
as the shadows of a brain might.
At this fencepost,
under buckeye trees,
nuts have eyes like those
of buck deer, as if mocking me.
Let me look at you
for a thousand days without
turning. Let me know
your posture the way roots know.
Why do your footsteps no longer
match the beating in my chest?
I can no longer hear your breathing,
just the rain that can’t hold off
its falling. Why do you think
a hike will mute such melancholia?
Mat down “it happened”
to “don’t worry”? I am counting
your steps upward,
numbering the wet trees,
I watch the hawk catch
the wind currents—
how strange to think it is free
within its entrapment.
You still cannot hear what I hear—
the hawk’s wings opening
like newly sparked tinder.
“The Nanking Incident as I See It”
—Nakamura Akira, professor of history at Dokkyo University
The Chinese ignored
the Japanese Army’s summons to
Why can’t I be the girl
getting her cuticles pushed back?
Or the one who
ate the leaf and its shadow? How I love
the shadows more
than the leaves that take and take.
I have grown used
to working under two dusty suns. Let the florid
smell of human meat
make the birds come down. Let it turn
your sail and pull you in, too.
And while the woman waited
for the bayonet to settle
in her, she dreamt that a Japanese
soldier had sewn it in there one night,
then tiptoed downstairs and kissed
his son on the forehead.
How his wife
had left a bowl of rice, seaweed, and
dried horse mackerel
on the kitchen table,
how the wife may have
felt something, but an ocean has
It just tongues and
to stay faithful to humans.
How to stay faithful to
earth when all that is there is a
derivative of mud.
It was easier work than she had imagined—
Reed’s Sport Shop and its glass case of
Civil War pistol replicas,
under deer heads frozen in their shame.
“Tall and slender,” the revolver
of her body,
and the Oldsmobile,
her head fastened to the window,
red dripping into tiny rafts
Some days the yard
smells of molasses