No tears for You
by Mark Kodama
The finger of my grandfather
Beckons me though the mists of time,
A suicide and a murder
Of the most sensational kind.
My grandfather looks like his black and white photos,
An immigrant, a stranger from a distant shore –
A middle-aged Asian man with a small gaunt frame.
High cheek bones, almond eyes,
That look into your soul through round glasses.
The top of his head is bald.
He is dressed in a new white shirt
Suspenders and gray dress slacks
Pulled up to his waist.
He solemnly look into the camera.
It is strange to see you in color.
You stand in front of your new Packard,
Outside the house you own
On the California beach.
You are next to your pretty young wife,
A babe in one arm and a small girl
At your side, my mother and aunt
Many years ago.
I see him pleading, his body bleeding,
His sorrowful eyes and silent lips
And bloody hands, steel kitchen knife in hand,
Calling for understanding.
America is racist.
We were victims of the politicians
And greedy farmer eager for our land.
My wife had a secret lover.
I lost my car, my house, my freedom.
It is part of Japanese culture.
But I have no tears for you.
You killed your wife, yourself,
And you left your two young daughters
Orphans dependent upon the kindness of strangers
In a lonely place called Manzanar.
I see the concrete foundations of the barracks
That once housed the internees, wondering
Which one was yours.
There are no people here today.
Only the howling wind, sweeping
Down from the cold black mountains
Into the Owens Valley.
There are no longer any voices,
Only the sound of the blowing wind
And the singing wind chimes.
Are those the ghosts of the Paiute Indians
That once roamed the valley
Or only wind chimes?
You place your younger daughter in bed with her mother.
You crawl into bed with your older five-year old daughter.
By morning your wife is already dead,
A bloody rag around her neck,
Her lifeless eyes still open,
Bidding the world a final good-bye.
You are still alive,
Snoring and rasping,
Disembowled with your own knife.
Frantic neighbors open your door
Lifting the fish-hook lock
With a matchstick and then
Carry your dying body
To the camp infirmary.
Did you think about the legacy
You would leave your children,
Marking all their days with these
Lasting memories of your last day?
I have no tears for you.