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Miho Nonaka-lll

Class by the Sea




After lunch, the teacher makes us stare

at the line between the sky and the water

to improve our vision. Mostly I am thinking

of this summer’s shell gathering at low tide,


a huge sea anemone blooming

in the cave Maya and I happened on.

The bully whispers from behind me:

Hit your head on the corner of a tofu


and die! Still, I feel serene knowing

I have seen what he hasn’t,

a pact I made with Maya not to tell.

A secret is always an unearthly flower


that protects you with its invisible

tentacles. I glance at Maya who is

staring at the sea in earnest.

We are selective when forming


a society, though she won’t remember

me after my change of schools

and years later, in my dream,

her timid voice will only cast a shadow


the size of a sparrow. We loved

the anemone’s green flesh like

the surprising richness of a fear

we hadn’t known. Even when I am no longer


a child, I won’t be able to name or

claim each thing that blooms in the dark.

Alone I see it grow without tending,

never reaching the stage to swim away.