by Cesar Polvorosa Jr.
Maybe they got away
when they fled the crumbling buildings for the fields
as the ground rumbled.
Maybe they got away
from the onrushing wall of murky sea water that like a
malevolent leviathan crushed and swallowed Ishinomaki.
Did Yuko and Seiko leave on time?
They should be grown women by now
perhaps with children at their same age when
I was a guest of the family decades ago.
What about Kazuo their pock marked, pot bellied father
and Shintaro their constantly inebriated family friend?
We forged our ties from imbibing sake
while engorging on sushi and yakitori*
Did they make it?
It was a bright and cheerful town.
The flowers bloomed at Hiyori-yama Park.
Children laughed while walking with their okasan and obaasan.**
I was enamored with the fair maidens in colorful kimonos
as their peals of merriment echoed through the streets.
Where are they now?
Were they the weeping survivors who combed among the flotsam?
Were they the bent dishevelled figures searching amidst
the mud and miasma for their photos, clothes and broken furniture?
For ages they bless the land and the sea for their bounty.
Did they curse them for that day of boundless rage?
Did they question the mindless vagaries of the gods?
It was a shattered town of floating, bloated corpses but
they buried the dead, removed the salt from the land and rebuilt.
What endures is the memory by the living
of the vibrant mirth and verdant fields vanishing
in the paroxysm of the earth and sea on 3/11.
The muddy fields had been cleared but the debris
remained amidst the ruins of the heart and soul.
It is to tremble at a tremor and shed a tear at the sight of the sea.
My fears for them are like gaping fissures that may never close.
Maybe they got away.
I pray they did.
*Japanese grilled chicken (yakitori)
**Japanese for mother (okasan) and grandmother (obaasan)
Editor’s Note on Ishinomaki
Ishinomaki is not Cesar Polvorosa Jr.’s first piece in Eastlit. The December issue of eastlit featured two poems by him.
Cesar Polvorosa Jr.’s interview with Eastlit was in the February 2014 issue.