He didn’t think about the after
or the before for that matter,
the time it didn’t work,
the time all failed
the time we said, no, no, no,
never again.

No, he didn’t think about that.

He just meddled and muddled
believing it would work
without plan
without knowledge
without loss
of our sons, our daughters,
our husbands, our wives,
our fathers, our mothers
our friends and acquaintances
names in the newspapers
names on the newscasts,
all 4235 of them
with more to come,

believing it could be done
without caring about the nameless
other sons and daughters, wives and husbands,
fathers and mothers, friends and acquaintances
whose names will not appear

with all the other
names to be written
on the marble waves
crushing the shores
of our remembrance.

—Jean Toyama

Of Our Remembrances

We don’t want to remember
what illuminates
the smallness of our hearts,
as on the morning
I saw you grip your knees
and break into a cold perspiration
that glistened on your face
like glycerin tears.

I wanted to be off,
out of the house,
and free of you–
the gnarly trees
of your age and fears
of what you called
your “naughty“ illness
that hindered my
run across the meadows.

Tucking the nitro tablet
under the log of your tongue,
I patted your hand
and released you
to your knot of pain.
I didn’t wait to see—
was the pill working?

I had make-up to apply,
last minute notes to make,
the laundry to take out.
You called to me,
asked if I would massage
the pain in your back and arm.
“I don’t have time,“ I said,
your howling eyes
following me out the door.

It was not the usual angina.
A flaw had sent you toppling.
Until today,
I can’t look into
my memory of your eyes.

In album pages, I look
at thirty-year-old photos—
a skinny girl with short black hair
parted to the side
with a pin
securely placed
by her mother.

Her eyes hold
and unknowing.

I place my finger
on a photo
holding the girl’s hand
glad that the camera
saved her eyes
when time
did not spin
and take everything.

These are the eyes of a girl
who is outside
smiling in the wind.

Many years later,
he watches her sleep
the white hair, hollow skin, frozen
lines dwindling. He can’t remember her laugh-

down at the boathouse by the Ala Wai
where dances were held every Saturday night.
So many parked cars they had to walk as far
as three blocks, but they could hear it
from that distance, the bass, the horns
taste the Latin notes as they held hands under
a copper sky hurrying toward the lighted pavillion.
Arthur Lyman’s band wailing as they stepped
over congo beats towards the boys from McKinley
wearing pomade ducktails and tailored shirts.
Acknowledges them with a smirk, one arm around her
and the other raised high, a king over his court.
A good time, a lifetime, but there were also

accusations over lunch breaks, How come you no answer
da phone when I call? Every smile a threat
Why he looking at you- you fucken whore.
Stay home, shit- but baby needs
diapers and the electric is two months late
A difficult time, a lifetime, cutting him at all sides

No good Filipino boy- yeah da truck driva
fo Love’s Bakery- get dat nice looking hapa girl,
What she doing wit him? Too bad yeah.
Rusty nails through his shoe

He goes out to the rainy porch now, lights another
Marlboro. Glimpses her smile in the smoke
curling back in the wind. Takes another drag,
feels his tumor grow.

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