photo by Jenni Kuida
 

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The Manzanar Committee

Contact:
Tak Yamamoto
13733 Rayen Street, Arleta, CA 91331-6143 (818) 894-7723
takeyyamamoto@msn.com

© manzanarcommittee.org 2006

Color
Message from Manzanar
by Martha Nakagawa

It is still there, lying in that gaping womb.
Fiftysome years of baking in muted silence.

It is a violence
of plates and cups.
Bashed remnants of bone
China glint
like teardrops
'neath the heat.
There is nothing whole here.

The backs of some read:
USOMC McNicol China
Tepco USA China
Buffalo China
Homer Laughlin
Wallace China
They were all made
in America just like me.

I wonder who ate off
those plates and cups,
whose jeweled whiteness
now glares at me like cracked skulls.

Did they eat platefuls
of dusty rice
wash it down with spit
only to throw them up again?

Did they sink
barbed teeth
on thick cup edges
and taste bitter
salt tea trickle down
epoxied mouths?

I lift a halved cup,
imagining someone,
my mother perhaps
using it to sip
a nice cup of hot tea.
But now,
only desert ants, black as shoyu,
cling to its white underbelly, dead.

Mt. Whitney cares nothing for this.
Her snow ribbed sides stand aloof, while
we, here, waste away in heat,
as clear as water
as dry as dead dreams.
There is no refuge here, in
this garden of sand, stone and sage.
It is wild and untamed.

Reprinted with permission by the author.


Updated: 11/06