He Feels his Tumor Grow

That’s what he calls it, that thing inside him
he doesn’t know what.
Surely, the naming will tame it:
tumor, tumor. Then, it will
stop growing,
this feeling.
In him, on him, by him, with him . . .
he uses prepositions to make him think he knows.
He doesn’t.
When did it start? It was always there,
never there.

He says his but doesn’t know why.
He doesn’t possess it,
even know it,
but there it is,
he feels it

all that unknowing.

Jean Toyama

of what lay beneath the glassy surface
of the sea before you,
made you want to dive
into its dark-blue secrets
and trapped air.

You have finally reached bottom.
Now, you are heading up,
as if in an unwinding
of your life’s journey.
So your dying
comes as no surprise,
except to those who thought you’d live
forever. They deceptively cling to you,
as they would a life-raft,
and in the end,
to life itself.

You need this time
to grieve for yourself,
times you fetched
the morning paper from the stoop,
turned over the frying rice,
or helped your daughter with her sweater.
All life’s work.
But to them this grieving means
that you are giving up the sky
or that burst of moonlight above you.
They make you feel guilty
for having lost your hat to the wind,
not trying harder
to beat your illness.

But I see it in your eyes.
You are holding onto nothing.
You are finding
that there’s a certain
grace and relief
in acknowledging
your fatalistic move up
toward the light-flushed surface,
as when you first dove in,
at birth,
and shattered the water.

She ran past the weathered houses,
fenced gardens, and crying dogs.
Air escaped from her throat,
and it was hard to breathe.
As her legs teared with sweat,
her eyes saw water running
through a canal.

She picked up a rock,
threw it at her reflection,
and shattered the water.

In the water,
pieces of herself dispersed
and reassembled.

She stared at her image.
Then, she turned around and walked
past the fenced gardens
and weathered houses.

She could still hear the dogs crying.

—Ann Inoshita

A recording of her voice, an old woman's voice
full of gravel and lead steeped through
the car radio. She spoke of gathering limu
visitors on ships, and dusty roads in Waianae.
In the distance you could almost hear
the dogs crying, the mullet wriggling in the fish bag

Nostalgic for a tutu I never knew,
I feel the ocean pulse inside me
waves rolling over, pushing me till I leap
from this car through the congested H-1
across the noise and ashen sky

emerge beneath the rains in Nu'uanu.
I move past the fresh water ponds
past the guava trees towards homes
with flimsy tin roofs where
my father, already late for school,
races up Papakolea with a kite made
of fishing twine. Framed in a small kitchen
window, tutu scrapes the meat from awa skin
for dinner tonight, wipes her hands on
old flour bags for dish cloths.
She is already small and wants to forget
I may be too late-

I have tomatoes and onion from the market tutu
my hand is out,my plate is empty
and some bones for the dogs to stop their crying
do you know my name?
I am listening for your stories to call me in
my hand is out, my plate is empty
for your stories to show me the way
tutu,do you know my name?

–Christy Passion

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