Saturday, June 22, 2013

Manzanar Picnic

Twenty-eight rice balls,
Packed with spam, wrapped in nori.
A bucket of cold KFC.
Grapes, chips, and cold lemon tea.
Hisashiburi, ne?
How many ages have passed
Since the last family picnic?
Swapping licorice on the park bench,
Shaded by river trees,
While the rest of the desert crashes
Into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

But in the hot, cramped mess halls
Of Manzanar,
They ate "Slop Suey" and cringed
At Jello dumped on steamed rice.
The chatter of plates and chewing teeth
Shattered that civilized ritual.
Conversation died.
Children shunned adults
And ganged up in their own tables.

How strange then
That this quiet tragedy
Of broken families
Has brought us all together.
On a sunny Saturday,
We eat riceballs
In a place where barbed wire
Lies on the other side of the river.

--June 22, 2013

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