BITTER HOPES (The Tsunami, Sendai)
When ground beneath her desk rolled like
a carpet shaken of its dust, a terrifying
rollercoaster, Yuki screamed at
something unnamed and horrible
She thought, “This is IT…
The final moment, or the beginning of many
Crawling out of her cubicle,
scenes burned their way into her memory
Ten minutes before, she and Hayashi had shared a cigarette
and a kiss in the stairwell
Now, he was pinned under a desk, eyes glazed;
a picture of their trip to Kanagawa
where they regarded the roses
had settling on his chest
Was this the last thing he saw? His last good memory?
She prayed it was so
Then came a blur of
walking nightmare people
pictures posted with notes
questions without answers
Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster
And of course, government downplayed the severity of radiation
She and Kenji commuted inland daily from their home in Sendai;
Father enjoyed the view of surf.
Why had Kenji taken the day off?
She knew now her brother was gone, as well as their parents,
swept from earth as waves wiped the chalkboard clean
Alone Safe Not safe Scared
A butterfly chose her at random to grace her
with a dizzying dance of color and life
“If only I had the mind of an insect,” she thought,
as bile rose in her throat
“At least butterflies hold the key to hope:
Live free for a season, surrender peacefully to death”
Her only hope was that the world see, and learn, what her grandmother
had told her, as she revealed flowered tattoos of her Nagasaki childhood:
Men’s greed and technology will never defeat the ferocity of nature
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Fireblossom at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads wanted stories of loss. I took the loss of others and, in so doing, resurrected an old poem, because the last line haunts me. This was originally written (and much wordier) in 2011, before Fukushima. Turns out technology doles out terror in equal quantities… that also includes the effects of global warming. And humankind’s terror is reversible, but that is not in sight right now…
June 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm
smiles. i like that butterflies hold the key to hope…and what they have to say about it…and the truth in that last line def rings….happy saturday amy…
June 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm
This is an important poem – I’m so glad to get the chance to read it today!
J Cosmo Newbery
June 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm
No, it is an unequal battle. Often where men schooled in politics and congressional brawling think that they can overcome the laws of physics by a majority vote. Ha.
June 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm
This is really powerful, Amy! I often say that market forces and geopolitics are not laws of physics but are made up constructs, yet we act like they are God’s own word.
Kay, Alberta, Canada
June 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm
Bravissima, Amelita. You really aced this prompt, and taught us all a lesson while so doing. No matter how much we hurt, someone else on this planet has suffered a great deal more.
Sherry Blue Sky
June 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm
Glad you picked this topic-loss on a monumental scale. In Alberta there has been flooding so severe that the entire downtown of a major city was evacuated and was underwater. It takes so much time and money to clean up after these disasters, wish they’d put some money into clean alternative energy instead and we might have fewer of them. Sigh. Good write, kiddo.
June 30, 2013 at 5:21 am
her thoughts and motions rocked, rushed, flooded me. well done, Amy.
June 30, 2013 at 7:22 am
I saved yours for last, girl. I;’m so glad you came back to the Pond in time to participate in my FBF challenge! You know, I saw a foreign movie, a French movie, about a woman who survives the tsunami and how it changed her. I wish i could recall the title, but it was outstanding. This poem reminds me of the scenes where she was being washed along with all the other people, and debris, and hazards. The movie was a bit like “Crash”, in that it had intersecting storylines.
June 30, 2013 at 7:26 am
“Hereafter”! The movie was called “Hereafter”!
June 30, 2013 at 10:13 am
Strong images, Amy. I live in southern California where the San Onofre nuclear plant was officially taken permanently offline last month. Of course the letter went out to let us know rates were going up 15-30% immediately. Hubris and greed > foresight and stewardship.
July 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm
Welcome back, amazing lady. So happy to be reading you again. This line, in particular, haunts me:
“the beginning of many
Isn’t that how we see it…after?
So well spilled, my friend.