by Melissa Uchiyama
How could I bring home a banana tree
only to dissect it?
How unfathomable to snake a stem in
some kind of pot
and think the early fruit would blossom turn yellow
sweet in its tough skins
To only stare at deep purple that hangs
too fragile for my living room in winter
and here we sit
in a cab — windows down, coats on
from the place at Arakawa River
where people come to move their loved ones
robed bone into fire.
We sit with the ashes of flowers and our small small
son daughter child with beauty unchartered
unseen in white silk-like kimono
dust and salt at the bank of a river.
We cannot bring home any more
that teeter on death.
Not bananas, not fish, not love spun into the frame of a child.
And this is what it is to grieve in my town
And reek of incense.
The Timing of a Name
In a bowl called Unscathed
on a plate innocent, charged,
On a day the sun peeked out
I saw pink flurries–
sun on snow from the third floor
before it was nowhere
by the first, and only air
by the ground.
On a branch before blossom
I saw the small bird detailed, honeycomb
before it twitched–a swath, a fleck.
In a cup
in a womb
in a window
in a home
I saw you before your first beat
before your babble
while you were still
and not gravel
I saw you as the softest yarn
I named you Well and Good and Pleasant
before a cloud before damper
and flight and sendoff, tense and tight,
you were everything, everything
Hurry up to spring
where everything grows
antlers even peas,
whatever you want
pops from the ground like birth
and nothing is sallow and sullen
or dead anymore.
But the bushes you thought would stay dull,
same in each season are then thrush
thrust into feeling
like a hurt boy,
like a bashed body waking
like milk leaking
from a heart, a breast charged
with electrifying heat and purpose:
every root every dandelion fiber is here to
protect and sustain
what we give out on.
So give me spring and summer
with trees heavy, absolutely laden, maybe broken with fruit
carried from lifetimes of winter.
Hold up to me now
heaven bending down
Give us our prayers still supple
as we figure how to say them aloud.
Tickle my thigh and tell me this hope
was not all the way crinkled grey and lifeless–
tell me how to evade chill
for an always near, always near spring
Fishing in brooks wading in ankles
and wrists, tan in freckles,
a neck that relaxes into a gazelle’s
and thoughts that start as one
into squinty blindy flecks
spotting the sea
with sails that float as languidly,
as easily as toast gets warm.
Take the winter and make it pregnant
again with feet to carry us over this line
exultant pods with seeds to light us
and feed us forever
like a bottlebrush tree, like ragtag
caper bushes growing carefree in the Negev
And tamarind, turmeric,
give me lilac and gardens,
piñon and balsam sap
for us women
weeping in tents and apartments.
We need the bulb of truth
and the equipment to love.
We have it, actually, now, just warm our body.
Hook us to breathe in the likeness
of your face and remember it all.
Let us catalog and track the nearness of light that never grows dim,
never gets caught on burrs or scratchy sleeves.
Give me eternal June and the blush of figs.
Give me an ocean of kicks.