(I travelled to the Pearl Harbor memorial a few years ago. I had to suffer the indignity of being amongst a throng of Japanese while we cruised past the memorial. I wrote this afterwards. A family member of mine went to the memorial a few years later and read this outloud on the observation deck above the USS Arizona.)
Reply to Toge Sankichi's poem The Shadow (1945)
The boat carries us as it skips across the waves, heading toward
Japanese crowd me, jabbing with their elbows and cameras
Oblivious to the pain.
The ferry transports us to the wheat that is now chaff. I wear black. They wear Red, yellow and happy colors.
The metallic voice is sometimes drowned out by the wind. The breezes
Billowing the 3 flags.
The voice should be a dirge-it is anything but sorrowful. I see sorrow in the Faces of the Americans.
The small ship speaks in different tongues-English, Japanese and French.
…They can speak no longer.
The water sparkles as we speed toward our destination; the land floating by
Water is not the proper place for them; the island cries for their flesh, as a mother calls for her children.
I look around as the chattering continues, we are the minority. Smiling, beaming oriental faces.
Click! Snap! They gesture loudly at the white monolith. The box squeals more
"Our hero fighters, claiming first blood against the Imperialistic American swine, sunk their lances deep.
We struck a blow against the round-eye Pacific fleet" - glory, all too
I fight for a place at the rail. I must be invisible to them. Ghostly apparitions
Never to rise.
I was not there during the Big One. Only the grainy images seen in D-day films Of fallen Dunkirk and bloody beaches.
The white structure beckons all to look; to honor; to meditate on War, on
They gawk and chatter like monkeys. Pointing and laughing. Their large teeth
Bared to the sky.
Proud, hawkish and righteous, they. Bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki thus, Leaving shadows.
The murky blue-green water is darkened with a shadow-the remnants of small
Men with small minds.
Who wreaked havoc throughout Asia-murdering, raping and looting. Victims whose voices are sometimes heard.
Tora-tora-tora! This Torii is one they do not recognize. Not a burial shrine but a
Marker for victory.
A sign in Japanese says "Memorial for those who gave their lives on the
No effect. Their tiny chests swell with pride though mine too, but for a different
The Zeros that day dropped 500's and 1,000's and created Hell. Fire, blast and Heat cremated many. Smoke slowly stifling the majority.
Maybe it's better to be vaporized? A memory of your outline on a red brick wall.
"ditat Deus "-does He? Buddhists know different-that we are all gods but this,
"A plague upon your epileptic visage! Smile you my speeches, as I were a
A submarine breeches the surface and 9 lose their lives, while fishing. We'll
Probably erect a memorial to them now.
Somehow that bothers me, though I know not why. Maybe it's because of the
Maybe it's because of knowing history. Maybe it's the squawking box; it's because actions speak as words.
When I look down in the water, that was no accident. The bombs didn't fall
And not mollified, all I see are samurai without honor.
(May we all learn something to make this world a better place.)