Alma, 1942

Poetry by Brynn Saito

January 27, 2013

Illustration by Lia Tin

To board the train without suspicion
I told the man I was Chinese
can you believe it?
You never have to lie
to survive, now do you?
So what will you do
with your curious pen
and your questions like daggers
slicingbthrough the ripe heat
of the merciless summer,
tearing the grapes from the vine
till they drop like a satchel
of dead knuckles on dead earth?

To begin they gave us one army blanket
and one army cot,
no doors on the bathroom stalls
and no stoves for heat
only mouthfuls of dust
and the sight of a mountain
in the barbed distance
where the wind waited like a tired sniper.Denying what you love
is like sanding your heart with a pumice stone
and the stone is on fire
and there is No Speaking Allowed Please
and No Singing.
You’ll see it for yourself
when you go there roving
with your questions for the barracks
like a hungry ghost.

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Brynn Saito

Brynn Saito is the author of the poetry collection The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press in March 2013. Her poetry has been anthologized by Helen Vendler and Ishmael Reed; it has also appeared in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Pleiades and Drunken Boat.