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.

Available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Poems-Heron-Clan-poetry-anthology/dp/0967385555/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435606564&sr=8-1&keywords=heron+clan+iii


42 thoughts on “Rice

  1. Wonderful depiction of identity via a simple grain. Rice has been, and continues to be, a part of most of my meals. Many years ago, we took my dad (Filipino) to the Spaghetti Factory in Honolulu, and he asked for a side of rice with his pasta dish. We insisted he get that, and they gave him a bowl of risotto.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In this homoginizing world, keeping touch with one’s cultural/family lineage is a formidable challenge. What to keep? What to let go of? What to actively adapt and engage? What to passively incorporate? For me your poem captures these dilemmas and possibilities. And I also like eating rice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is an aural component to poetry. I believe it should be read aloud, and I recite as I write (which may explain why I don’t write in coffee shops or other public places). 🙂


  3. Pingback: True Character (haiku). | FUSION FICTION: PROMOTING CROSS-GENRE WRITING

  4. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:
    Food is comfort, food is art, and food is poetry. Please welcome a wonderful poet Robert Okaji. I found his site almost addictive – couldn’t stop reading. You simply have to stop by and take a read! His poem “Rice” inspired me to repeat my post “Making Sushi!” I hope you enjoy both!

    Liked by 1 person

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