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Tanaka Ikuko
tr. Miho Kinnas & Shelly Bryant
"In the Wind of Bleached Memory"

One day, after the wind, my father was on the battlefield
One day, after the wind, my father was a returned soldier
He came home to the dirt yard of the narrow land in the mountains

His body was thin and his face tinted yellow
I peeked at him from behind my mother, I was told


He, in my memory, was always sick
An egg, he ate, threw up and lost in diarrhea
A piece of fish, he ate, threw up and lost in diarrhea His body diminished
One day as he hurt his spine in the forest
One day he lost consciousness under the falling tree


He didn’t talk about the battlefield
When the rough wind blew
he saluted with a stern expression
shouted, stammered and I heard the slapping of the cheeks in the dark

On another day whatever the wind blew

he raised his hand high with a chess piece between the fingers

then thwacked it down and that made him smile
He fished a trout he kept in the pond and that made him smile


And then, with Huntington’s disease, he grew thinner and his hands trembled

And then, he was stung by an October bee and died at the age of fifty eight


One day, in the wind of the bleached memory

I was a middle school student
‘Democracy’ was brand new
‘America’ was brand new

I stood by the window and my father said to me

‘Girls are better off not reading newspapers’
I wondered what he was still fighting against

His voice was very low
It has been sixty years
The voice and meaning fade away
I stand in the dirt yard — nothing has changed there —
I stand by the window where I faced my father
In the space between the feeble light and the warmth of blood

I place the printed word ‘Peace’
In the light, in one sliver of light,


the image of my father doesn’t come together

because it doesn’t — I think
I will carry with me the space by the opaque window

of the abandoned house
The eyes of the battlefield seemed gentle
They might have been lonely just as
the wind, the light and the shadow are

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