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War

Poem

She touches time like this:
a cautious brush down unsanded wood.
In the chair she sits still
along the window, bands of light
dressing her like a wound.
Nagasaki, Tule Lake -- they fall sky to sky.

Her vision begins to sky
against the rocking, the creak of worn wood
erasing every shadow with the blue heat of light.
Silhouettes remain - burnt into walls like a scarred wound,
its edges wavering like paper stained and dried. This
rises and falls in her as a sea in storm. She wishes to be still.

In the ensuing heat they wrapped themselves still,
as if then the pikadon could not -- would
not find them standing and make them disappear. In this
lie the stirrings of her heart chilled from the light,
the gaps of space between clouds in sky
where nothing stopped, uncoiling like a star too tightly wound.

It was uncle, not her, found wound
on a single thread of despair hanging from the sky,
his arms reaching toward the ground. Still,
memory gives softly like night into dawn. It would
be Obasan found under the rubble of this or that, that and this,
and all else that grew from the light.

Dust of the past falls into the light
and memories cling like cobwebs to her every sense, still
each brush away brings them closer. Each wound
opens without touch, as if the sky
wished each nail to dislodge from the wood.
Time touches her like this.

Tonight the stars are near and dimming, near as shadows. This.
Through twists of light
emerges the world in a glimpse, a people still
as sky fell upon earth upon sky.
Into the gray dawn every man's wound
opened -- those cold froze, those dying engraved in wood.

She sits in the still light and imagines this in memory
like a dream - every wound buries what would have been.
To think of things missed, the sky falls and breaks into downpour.

About the Poet: Lily Chiu lives in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood. This is her first published poem.