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Sunday, April 13, 2014


by Paula Schulz

(CBS News) — Norio Kimura knows he may never find his daughter’s body amid the radioactive rubble of Okuma, Japan, his deserted hometown near the Fukushima power plant. Still, he returns as often as authorities will allow, looking for Yuna, his dead daughter. It’s what keeps him sane. The survivors of Okuma, about 11,000, left the town after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, most never to return. Yuna was one of 111 – including Kimura’s wife and father — who perished in the earthquake; her body is the only one not recovered there. Kimura has so far found just one of her shoes.

                    Fukishima five years later: only one unaccounted for

For Yuna: a small deity to keep her company forever.
For her father: one pink tennis shoe.

He can visit only ten times a year, stay only five hours.
So he does, come hell or high water or blizzard, though

there’s not even a cold hope of finding her now.
But their connection not grey waves

nor cesium 137’s silver melt can sunder.
The blind hunt for anything of Yuna’s:

to keep sanity and soul together
from rising sun to rising sun, year after year--

this is the heart’s grind and gnaw,
this is the stone permanence of love.

Paula Schulz has taught for nearly twenty years.  She lives in Slinger, Wisconsin with her husband, Greg.