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  • My Pacific War on the Hidaka Plain
  • Yumiko Tsumura (bio)

(on my memory wall)

When I was six years oldI ate rice porridge and potato vinesoccasionally broiled locustsand chewed sugar caneall the flowers were goneI practiced writing characterson the edge of newspapersfilled with war propagandaunder a dim lightthe spirit coming out of a radiowas explosive

I marched to the whistlea long footpath between rice paddiesto the schoollined up with village childrena cotton helmet onwhen I heard the siren B-29s were coming, I ranto hide my little bodyin the bamboo bushor put myself into a gunny sackand laid down on the dirtto play possumwhen we arrived safeat the school playgroundwe first turned our headsto the east and made a profoundbow to the monumentkami was enshrinedin the morning sunafter Long Live the Emperor [End Page 67]

we squatted and weededunder the scorching sunmy head was fainting white

At night I sawthe smoky lit red skyin the east on the other side of the mountain"Osaka got it!Water to a burning stone" Ilearned the name ofthe old city

Dark clouds were approachingthe Hidaka Plain

Just then August 15, 1945the deploring voice of the Emperorfilled the roomthe blank faces of adultsthe wondering eyes of childrenall wasin a still time

And thenthere was the sound of the wavesof the Pacific Ocean

Having escaped intolife, I sawmy father's large magnanimous handsmy mother's enduring handsI was gloriouswith the thought ofa white blanksheet of paper to writemy name [End Page 68]

Yumiko Tsumura

Yumiko Tsumura is a poet, translator, shodo artist, and teacher who was born in Gobo, in the Hidaka plain, Japan. Having studied first in her homeland, she later received her MFA in poetry and translation from the University of Iowa. Her poetry has been published in many journals. She is a professor of Japanese language and culture at Foothill College in California. Tsumura collaborated in the translation of numerous works of modern Japanese literature with her late husband,



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