- The Evacuation Sale
What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.—Kobayashi Issa, tr. Robert Hass
It’s spring in San Joaquin County. Newspapers on the sidewalk read: out, out, out. No one carries them in.
Neighbors greet. The morning is bright and damp. You are shy, table-height.
Your mother tells you not to touch a thing: Kokeshi dolls. Pearls and ties. Silken dresses folded into squares.
You hold a finger over the river on a tea cup: the steady bone-white on blue is the Eel River. You are an eagle.
Flying, you look closely, careful not to touch. You find people scattered among fields carrying things away.
You hear the neighbors will be gone before the cherry blossoms fall: they will gather for buses and trains.
In time, their backyard gardens will turn from light jade to hard pear, then winter rains will turn them back.
The satsumas will come and the chard and red lettuce: the neighborhood children will pick them. [End Page 135]
You know that all things must go. Your mother points to a set of lacquered bowls black as a bird’s eye, an ocean away.
The neighbor woman lifts each bowl, folds a sheet of newsprint around the curve, twice, then again.
She pauses when the corners reach the middle. She presses firmly, each fingertip moving in, in, in. This, you understand, is farewell. [End Page 136]
kristi moos’s work appears in Crab Orchard Review, Denver Quarterly, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, Terrain.org, and others. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize. She is editor-in-chief of Poecology and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.