My Mother's Ghost Looks Away When I Say Her Father's Name
By Robert Okaji
Poetry Prize winner
Your body's garden sprouts angry blue fingers
when I mention Magosuke, whose spirit I've not met.
When I mouth his name reluctance oozes out
and your saplings shiver in the moist air. I know only
that he drank to excess and threatened to murder my father,
yet somehow I think he would endorse my inabilities,
and if we should meet, I'll ask. Is the language
in each afterlife the same or does it fragment and
scatter with every fallen petal? You taught me
to speak without words, to believe in the undercurrent.
Do you breathe in this existence, or absorb?
Do your roots stretch across ocean floors, from heaven
to Texas, from light to anthracite? Is this iris
love or a symptom of decay? I accept with silence my
inheritance of silence, and remember shaping mounds
with you and planting dark seeds. So many seeds.