To My Japanese Students, Going Home
I confess I sketch your slant dark eyes,
invariable hair, and sukiyaki names—
your five-to-a-Subaru frames—
as a blur of enigma, tinct with bows.
But some of you are outlines
sharp as sons:
Ohira with your kamikazi eyes and green Sahara dreams,
Koji at the table in your undertaker's suit
and golden smile, Sato who told me at last that
my aging paper sens, blue with flowers and birds
and pressed with the weight of years,
are values now so small that no one spends them.
In every one of you I see those
who once lined pages, penning perfect hands,
sending me bookmarks, bills, neat views of themselves
in Suizenji Park, seriously untouched by what my uncles
had dropped on all their cross-hatched, neat-roofed houses.
Sadaji, Yasuko, still I hope you are well.
I send you both from here in the West
a Thousand Cranes, folded of these light lines,
to float on paper wings in the face of time.
From Somewhere on the Interstate (Memphis: Ion Books, 1987),
17. Rpt. from Windmills 12(1983): 21.
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves. All rights reserved.
How an Evening School Teacher Passes His Hour
This once, while they are writing, I cruise their town
in the State car, adding a few guilty miles.
I stop at their Wal-mart and, knowing the archetype,
have no trouble finding my way to the pens.
I circle the square, and stop at a Colemans for coffee.
I find a fruit stand and swap small change
for two big apples, yellow enough to say October.
Eating one, saving the other for her,
all the while guessing at what my composers
are setting down in their silent confessionals,
I pen this separate, private note to share
in the enforced grief of things that must be put down,
filling a napkin that soaks up words like a blotter.
Later I will collect the papers and drive again.
Rpt. from The Educational Catalyst 9.2 (Fall 1979):
71.All rights reserved.