Get Your Premium Membership

What the Eyes Cannot See

Kyoko walks alone in the morning tide, 
comforted for a fleeting moment by salty air.
She feels the same sand between her toes 
as when she was a barefoot little girl, in a time
she felt safe, when the eyes of her mother protected her 
like a suit of armor - before the mighty wall of water, 
the “harbor wave”, towered over her village 
near Fukushima, washing her happy childhood away. 
Her dear mother, her security, her everything
never came home that day. 

Many months later, her father, a local fisherman, 
has lost his ability to cry, laugh or tell her why.
His silent eyes, cold as frost, are dead 
like the poisoned fish he nets every morning. 
In many ways, Kyoko lost both of her parents 
on that haunting day - forced to grow up long before 
the water receded, before the nuclear leak, 
before this new, austere existence.

Night deepens the despair. She is loneliest 
when darkness invades. She prays for the crickets 
return. They no longer sing her to sleep, and the stars
have faded, no longer shining through her open window.
Even the grasshoppers have died…
from restless sleep, night calls her to the mirror 
to find her mother’s dark eyes staring back at her – 
a curse she hopes will one day become a blessing,
a hope that one day her father will look at her again...

With tomorrow, her greatest burden will return. 
She will wake along side the broken-winged butterfly
with her duties in mind. Then, she’ll wear her stoic face 
to the marketplace. Father says he will soon lose 
his fishing boat. She has heard visitors from the city say 
only a fool would eat the fish from nearby waters, 
the same fish she fries most every day. No one knows
the global impact, they say. She hears foreign words
like radiation, disease and mutation while she sells 
the shiso and wasabi root from their garden stand,
feeling fear she does not fully understand but one day will.
She only knows how to survive today…

For Debbie Guzzi's Global Poetry Contest, 11/19/14      

Copyright © | Year Posted 2014

Post Comments
Please Login to post a comment
Date: 2/23/2017 7:21:00 PM
wow, Rhonda. Seeing this one again two years later, it has not lost its impact. Magnificent writing and another congrats.
Login to Reply
Date: 2/22/2017 9:10:00 PM
Awesome write. Congrats!!
Login to Reply
Date: 2/22/2017 6:37:00 PM
Great narrative, strong poem - congrats on your win, Rhonda
Login to Reply
Date: 2/22/2017 6:00:00 PM
Rhonda, you are indeed a poet and a storyteller in the best traditions. I watched that day live on TV as the waves rolled in with fear and awe. Heratbreaking isn't it! You had my full attention from go to whoa! Congratulations.
Login to Reply
Date: 2/22/2017 3:57:00 PM
Rhonda, excellent portrayal of real-life stuff....
Login to Reply
Date: 2/22/2017 2:58:00 PM
Wonderful writing on a real life tragedy, so sad how some have to live after disasters like this. Great story telling, congrats on a great win Rhonda!
Login to Reply
Date: 12/4/2014 10:37:00 AM
Good work that is in the winners' line-up..Way to go ..Congratulations on your big win..Sara
Login to Reply
Date: 12/3/2014 10:27:00 PM
Well deserved "top of the heap" placement Rhonda. You painted a picture of the destruction of a family in the eyes of a young girl thereby exposing the calamity that has befallen an entire village.
Login to Reply
Date: 12/3/2014 12:03:00 AM
This is one incredible write. Congrats on your huge win. Well deserved
Login to Reply
Date: 12/2/2014 10:09:00 PM
Rhonda, your poem is amazing, sad and so powerful! Congratulations on your 1st place win! Hugs, Sandra
Login to Reply
Date: 12/2/2014 3:13:00 PM
Really an amazing story Rhonda. You captivated me from the beginning. 7+fav
Login to Reply
Meier-Hans Avatar
Brenda Meier-Hans
Date: 12/2/2014 3:13:00 PM
Sorry, congratulations on your top win.
Date: 12/2/2014 6:53:00 AM
His silent eyes, cold like frost, are dead ... the disaster is man-made. One of the best I have read on disaster.. full of pathos. You deserved this win. My salute to you Rhonda. Love....rajat
Login to Reply
Date: 12/2/2014 6:03:00 AM
the mood of the poem is calm but it is soo sooo sad.. :) BIG CONGRATULATIONS!
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 10:59:00 PM
Good Job, Congrats :)
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 9:12:00 PM
Amazing write Rhonda! Powerful words here n a much deserved first place win! Big congrats!
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 7:58:00 PM
Powerful write Rhonda...Congrats on a great win
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 7:31:00 PM
So wonderful to see this entry of yours! Keep up the great work, a 7 & a fav Congrad's on your win. Light & Love
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 6:17:00 PM
!!!!****!!!!****CONGRATULATIONS**** ON YOUR ****FIRST**** PLACE ****WIN****!!!!****!!!!
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 4:47:00 PM
Such a a sad story and Andrea got her wish - top of the tree - many congrats:-) hugs Jan xxx
Login to Reply
Date: 12/1/2014 4:28:00 PM
Congratulations Rhonda on this most insightful winning poem,so strong and heartfelt writing.
Login to Reply
Date: 11/24/2014 5:39:00 PM
wow, this is REALLY good stuff!!!! I would place this at the top of the pile (well, from what I have seen so far) You took a topic of global import and made it feel very poetic. Sad and deep!!
Login to Reply
Date: 11/22/2014 3:09:00 PM
"She only knows how to survive today…"...super ending of the profound story-poem...I love the style...Best wishes to you...
Login to Reply
Date: 11/21/2014 10:12:00 AM
I am greatly moved by this story. The Japanese are a resilient people adept at survival. My heart aches for them.
Login to Reply
Date: 11/20/2014 10:10:00 AM
You have put so much heart into this poem, one can be overcome with emotions, while reading this sad narration. Wow, this is amazing writing, Rhonda. Well done!
Login to Reply
Date: 11/19/2014 12:26:00 PM
Rhonda, This is a most excellent poem!! I wish you all the best in Debbie's contest. Your poem is very well-written and the imagery is quite powerful stays with the reader throughout the poem. This one's a definite "7" from me. Best Always, Gary
Login to Reply