Winds - Poetry

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Graphic for Winds Poem

 from National Coalition for Redress and Reparations Pamphlet 1980




Hot delta breeze

Stirs light kimono sleeves 

Laughing, intent on following 

The graceful steps of older sister 

Miners dance, harvest rhythms 

Growing quickly 

In the (o) Bon time heat  


Gusts kick up the desert sand 

She looks outside 

Its loneliness reflected inside 

Dreams and plans shattered 

Wondering about a brother who fights 

Halfway around the world 

For democracy here at home 

At Tule Lake –  


Soft tradewinds unfurl a flag 

Near the young women who stop 

Taking out simple props 

Mock guns, coolie hats and paper bombs 

Playing out a battle, Asian faces on both sides 

Pressing leaflets into soldiers' hands  


Cool night air 

She steps out leaving stage lights, 

Bamboo flute and electric guitar 

Weave songs of Asians in America 

Artistry soft and hard 

Streets of gold and railroads 

Opportunity and exclusion 

Learning grandparents' wisdom 

Finding pride in her people –


Steam bangs on metal 

Work rhythms too new for songs 

Glistening cans move in rows 

Sorting, picking, discarding 

At break she trades her sukiyaki recipe 

For adobo, guacamole and sweet potato pie 

The corners of the world touch 

And enfold each others' rhythms –  


Breezes play with kitchen curtains 

She stands making manju 

With grandchildren crowding round 

Oba chan! Oba chan! 

In the fullness of her years 

Picture bride, cane cutter, cannery worker 

Bearing children in a rural house 

Be proud, the sky rests on your shoulders


–  A.F.