8th Grade Education

Yamete, stop, okaasan scolds —
no crying
otosan's ashes sit silent on the mantle
as the minister starts the chanting again
Hayaku, hurry,
okaasan pushes me toward the shrine
I'm the oldest son, so I first,
pinch the incense, three times
put into the urn with the senko burning,
bow in prayer
namu ami da butsu
namu ami da butsu
Kaiji and Takushi behind me,
then Mit-chan behind them.

I responsible for them now
plus okaasan, pregnant with her fifth child.
Even if I beg okaasan for let me go high school,
she say shikata ga nai,
it can't be helped.
She say I have to go Pioneer Mill,
get my bango
keep food on the table,
make sure Mit-chan and the boys finish high school.

I one man now
with one 8th grade education.
I feel my life
floating away in senko smoke.

Talk story

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