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Shikata ga Nai (Let It Be), a poem by Hiromi Yosihida

Shikata ga Nai (Let It Be)
by Hiromi Yoshida

Stoic acceptance

                    --not passive acquiescence
                    --not dumb cattle herded into packed boxcars
                    --not subservient Japs (as

                                          though truncation diminishes self-esteem)—

swallowing the bitter spittle
of outrage re. E.O. 9066
like green tea without the usual
ceremony. Heavy steps,

                         overstuffed duffel bags—

all that two arms can carry
(all that the heart can carry)

Shikata ga nai. Swallow, lunge forward

gravel crunch [toxic gaman]

tubular chrysanthemum stems drop
                   overripe heads with the weight of
                                apology [mōshi wake nai] for being

Japanese Americans at the wrong time (as

                            though there were a right time for these porous hybrid
                                                                                                             many-petaled things)—

The skies above Manzanar were sheets of motheaten kimono silk—
         taut with anxiety, mottled with unanswered questions, pinpricked with cruel stars;

The lacquered bento boxes
The sake cups
The porcelain rice bowls
The spoons, the chopsticks,
         the obi sashes matchless with lost kimono pieces and the children
                          without their corresponding dolls—

cucumbers and      plums pickled in formaldehyde     jars

Shikata ga nai.

Bio: Hiromi Yoshida teaches American Literature for the award-winning VITAL program at the Monroe County Public Library. Her poems have been published in such literary magazines and journals as Indiana Voice Journal, The Asian American Literary Review, Evergreen Review, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society.