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 © Rhonda Johnson-Saunders | Year Posted 2014