Yesterday’s rain informs me I’m born of luck and blended
strands, of hope and words forged before a common tongue emerged.
Of my first two languages only one still breathes.
The other manifests in exile, in blurred images and hummed tunes.
Rice is my staple. I eat it without regarding its English etymology,
its transition from Sanskrit to Persian and Greek, to Latin, to French.
Flooding is not mandatory in cultivation, but requires less effort.
Rice contains arsenic, yet I crave its polished grains.
In my monolingual home we still call it gohan, literally cooked rice, or meal.
The kanji character, bei, also means America.
Representing a field, it symbolizes abundance, security, and fertility.
Three rice plants tied with a rope. Many. Life’s foundation.
To understand Japan, look to rice. To appreciate breadth, think gohan.
Humility exemplified: sake consists of rice, water and mold.
The words we shape predicate a communion of aesthetics.
Miscomprehension inhabits consequence.
* * *
This is one of five of my poems appearing in Heron Clan III, an anthology edited by Edward Lyons and Doug Stuber, and recently published by Katherine James Books, of Chapel Hill, NC. Containing 151 pages of poetry by more than 30 poets.