W. Todd Kaneko
Different Sort of Trees
We don't sleep anymore, don't even
lie down. Tell me about days before the war,
before you endured Camp Minidoka, whole
bushels of history spilling forth.
Tell me about your wedding ring, about dancing
in orchards with my grandfather, about train tracks.
I've lived on the other side of winter, forgot how real
weather feels—the furnace's breath, the showerhead
my only reminder of sky.
Did he ever gulp whiskey and stumble home
after dark? Did you ever steal fruit at dawn?
When the ice melts, our house fills with perfume
as the skunks bloom, as pollen swarms venomous
in our night parlor.
What color were those trees at midnight? Do they
survive now that you are so far from the farm?
What about the atom bomb, poison intoxicating us
all like orange blossoms now that your husband
rests in that tiny box of ashes at your bedside?
We can't sleep like horses, don't shed our skins
like leaves, veined and diaphanous in the outlines
of grief. We stand under dark canopies, arms
waving the wind away—we see one another
like we used to, not like we used to.
Now the orchards have all been uprooted, now
the orchards stand where they've always been.