Sunday, 29 March 2009

Miyazaki and Me

A note: This is a new poem which I plan to submit to a women's poetry competition next month. I'd really appreciate any constructive criticism- likes, dislikes, areas needing clarity, etc. Thanks!

- Kim

As the wheels on the bus lurched noisily forward

The stranger sharing my seat and I exchanged awkward greetings

Our hellos contrasting sharply in their dissimilarity

I expected nothing but a mundane journey home

But as the bus gathered momentum, so did our conversation

Blowing flimsy, external difference out the window like litter

Left fluttering in the void between here and nowhere

Those around us may have wondered

What in the world we had in common

She, the granddaughter of Japanese rice farmers

I, of Texas cattle ranchers

Yet quickly we arrived at the plenitude that would bind us

Both of us this year had slipped suddenly into decade number three

Each distinctly unsettled at the way twenty-nine so suddenly becomes thirty

At the chasm that can separate one day from the next

At the way life metamorphoses over night

While we are yet not ready

She, upset to be still unwed

I, still to be childless

Lost were both of us in the labyrinth of family and career

Alone each seems such a perfect objective

Yet combined, irreconcilable

She tells me that she represents a multitude of her countrywomen

Back home in Japan, new families have been added to endangered species list

Inducing stern statesmen into sorcery

The government is waving bills in front of bellies as if feminine bodies will round by magic


I shared with her my search for a nesting spot on the rockface of career climbing

Where I can hatch my unborn children

My imagination already crowded with their presence

Statistics give me five more years before my body decides for me

Each birthday I mourn the clock’s tick-tock-ticking

Clearly, we had turned the corner of casual politeness

Things were now too personal not to press forward

So with an hour to go

We scooted closer

And began engaging in that transcendent language of storytelling

Holding the present up to the past like glass prisms in the sun beaming through bus windows

Refracting on the seats our dancing rainbows

We crisscrossed through dizzying years and distant generations

Until arriving, finally, at the crossroads of the present

Where it is our turn to make choices about our families’ futures

The continuation of traditions, memories, facial features

But before we arrived at any solutions, the bus slowed at my stop

Where we actually hugged goodbye

Stuffing pockets with scraps of paper

Marked with bumpily written contact details

I felt the loss of parting with someone kindred
This was such an unexpected sisterhood

Discovered in a single afternoon with the woman who was

Only an hour-and-a-half ago

Merely the stranger sharing my seat

Miyazaki, with beautiful round face and almond eyes

And me, with skin milk-white and eyes blue, just like my mother’s

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