We took trains to the camp

I sat in the rail station


while my mother and father went to collect our tickets

I looked at one of our suitcases—

my mother's—

I looked at it

and was able to figure out what was inside



wrapped around a tea set

the exterior of the case

was littered with pockets

and I knew

without anyone telling me

that the pockets were filled

with bags of tea leaves

The railstation

was filled with Japanese women

and children

sitting behind me

was a pretty girl


of course

on either side of me

were imposing

white policeman

They beat their


into the flesh

of their palm

as threateningly as possible

did they honestly expect any rebellion

from the Japanese?


though I am now

it honestly was my opinion that the Japanese

living in America

had lain low

and submissive

and would never rebel against the white men

It would bring my great grandparents

a prideful pair

great shame to hear my thoughts

They would whack me

across the top of my head

chastising me

for my thoughts

and for my lack of patriotic pride

Of course "patriotic" is a word I associate more

with America

I gave myself another chastisement

when my parents arrived

they undoubtedly thought I was blank minded

but they simply couldn't understand the extent

and depth of my thought

My parents are imposing

and I can never hold a level conversation with them

You know

one where each party is in equal power

because of course

my parents were like the emperor and empress

and I was their lowly peasant

available for them to boss around

and otherwise be unconcerned with

I made idle chatter with them

it seemed like everybody in that room was

doing the same

I couldn't understand what they said though

I never learned to speak Japanese

and my parents never tried to teach me