I Am From

Hitoe Engelbrekt

I am from tatami mats,
from inhaler and bitter Chinese herbal tea.
I am from sliding doors made of paper:
fragile, yet it has a strong imagined boundary.
I am from the sound of steaming water in a heavy iron pot
surrounded by silence.

I am from the cicada screaming summer
and the chilblain toes winter,
marigold orange on my way to school.

I am from the being proud of who you are
and hiding unhappiness from Minoru and Hana
and great great grandfather who sold lumber with roving eyes.
I am from happy and sad drinkers
and seeking answers in books.

From girls in the cage be good, put smile on your face,
and obey your father or husband.
I am from gods everywhere
even in a piece of rice and in the bathroom.

I am from the middle of island country where the Sun rises
and pickled napa cabbage made by my mother,
and tangerine oranges tended by my grandma.
From the princess who once was a lover of the shogun,
the mom looking at the window thinking about going back to her hometown.

No picture to be found to retrieve
my strawberry-shaped knitted handbag.
I am from warm and broken souls mended by trying to care for each other.

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