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Sunday, April 24, 2011


by Laura Rodley

Never again will a tsunami
come silently out of the unknown,
it will be tracked by radar
so there will be just enough
time to run.
Never again
will people walk unaided
by the spirits of those
drowned by the tsunami;
smell this rose for me
they will say, dipping
their head closer as
if for a kiss,
taste this smoked eel
for me, as they lean
by your cheek
to hear you chew,
touch this they will say
willing you to lean towards
the magnolia bud
ripe with the wish to burst,
but not yet the pink halo erupts.
Carry this, they ask,
carry this load of bamboo
tied with rope upon my back
take this load to my mother,
tell her I got lost upon the way
and now in deep waters of the ocean
I have not forgotten.
Untie the bundle for her,
her hands knotted with age,
lay the bamboo in a neat pile
for her to use as she wishes.
She had so admired the way
I cut the stalks without
bruising their ends;
it takes a clean, sharp knife.
Tell her I am calling her name,
speak it for me,
Mamasan, my little Rebecca,
speak it for me
so she can dry her tears.
And for my brother,
pull his hands away
from the damp soil
tell him I am not here,
he will never find my bones,
but you have found me,
oh kind stranger,
walking beside you
and you will tell him
what I say; I beg you,
and I am not ashamed of that.

And take these slippers
for my sister, red with
embroidered flowers, beaded.
They were for her birthday,
tell her I have not forgotten;
I was just looking for a way
back in to bring them to her,
a way back in.

Laura Rodley’s chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose has been nominated for a PEN New England L.L. Winship Award and a Mass Book Award.