The Forest

May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The road to the latrine is unlit.
then again,
lit by the sound of ground animals
whispering to each other
about darkness.

Kaoru is right behind me:
I keep track of her by the
heat of her breath at my back.
When I tell her to stop
whimpering, she becomes
she is my sister.

There is no where to put our
clothes in the bath house.
The floor is stones placed
in the dirt. There are
beetles at my feet.
Our things go on the ground
like the stones.
My sister burns her knees
on the tub;
At least the bath water
is hot.

grandfather wakes up when
his rooster screams. The moon
still hovers over the sun.
The rice fields quiver in a
mellow wind that creeps
through the thin screen
and underneath the sheet.

Feet shuffling
down the hallway: my sister
wipes her hair off of her
shoulder blades and
shows me her fever.
grandmother puts
the rice on the stove
for porridge.

The boys visit
from next door. They laugh
at us for not knowing our way
around the bamboo forest.
I get dizzy and fall
from trying to find the
tops of the trees.
My dress is already dirty
from the bath house.

Our cousins dare
Kaoru to eat a nameless
fruit from the smallest
tree in the forest. When she
splits it open, a hundred little seeds
show themselves. She sucks the
meat off of each seed and
leaves a mess behind in
triumph. I kick them into
the dirt.

I trip over a tree root and a
skinny snake emerges
from beneath it. Kaoru thinks
it is a dragon and she
starts to cry. The boys
laugh again because they
think that we are missing courage.
Kaoru wipes her eyes on my skirt
hem as we make our way back
to the house.

We can hear grandfather
raising his voice against
the crows at sunfall:
The boys return home
with red in their cheeks
and red lightning bolts
in their eyes.
Kaoru sips her
porridge next to me,
making loud noises
with each gulp.
grandmother is
smiling on her knees.

My mother arrives on
her bicycle the next day.
She notices the burns on
Kaoru’s knees but says
nothing. I help my mother
with the daikon and
the rice and a
package of fish cakes
and we go back.

grandfather is picking
fruit in the forest.


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