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Leila A. Fortier – I

~Ode to Okinawa~ 




I am but a single grain of rice…I do not deserve to be here~ This amber drenched morning stretches to trace the watermarked moon swallowed by the golden sun~ Along the sea wall…Fisherman wade through the still waters with glistening nets~ Moving like tai chi in a slow motion rhythm of qigong~ Absent of doctrine, but as effortless as Jesus, they fill their nets with the flicker of silver fish~ But the weight of it is something more~ Sumi-e is conducted here upon shimmering ripples of water~ In the reflections of sky that witness no end~ The fragrant heat lifting the scent of green from this sub tropic land~ I am but a single grain of rice~ I do not deserve to be here~ Simplicity is found in these mornings of witness~ As solitude speaks into the quieted night~ Stories are not told by the mouths of these silent men~ But in the rustling sway of sugar cane that whispers of old injustice~ And the cicadas that symphony the island’s every secret~ They too remind me that I do not deserve to be here~ An old Japanese woman, outside in her nightgown~ Greets me with a smile of infinite translation~ She alone could hold the sea…As well as the sun that sets into it~ She does not tell me I do not deserve to be here~ I know the shame I carry upon my head~ Of where I am from~ I would exile myself in the island’s quiet name~ Cast myself into the liquid jewel of the East China Sea if I thought I could rewrite history~ My eyes that shed a hundred thousand tears…My shame…And my useless apology~ But I am only a single grain of rice…