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  • Mugwort’s Leaves
  • Naoko Fujimoto (bio)

Three days before his death,I talked to my grandfather.

He asked, “Are you still itchy?”

My skin has never stayed on my cheeks,my whole life it has been dry.

He used to pick a mugwort’s leavesand boil them to make lotion.I hated the green-brown liquid.

Sometimes he cut aloe leaves openfor their soft insides.The white veins were sticky on my fingers.

“It may cure your skin when you marry,”and he gave me ice cream

before we played hide & seek. I curled upin the closet. It smelled of fur coats.

I touched them with my wet hands.They repelled water the way geese cut through snow

while flying in the February sky.I rubbed my cheeks against the fur.

Pieces of my skin flaked off.I scraped them until my nails split,

until he found me. [End Page 45]

Naoko Fujimoto

Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Japan. When she was an exchange student at Indiana University, she started writing poems. She is currently working on her first poetry collection about the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan to increase awareness of victims’ ongoing struggles. Her grandfathers survived World War II experiences in Hiroshima and China; therefore, she knows how the unseen fear of radiation impacts lives. Her recent publications are in Hotel Amerika, Passages North, Potomac Review, Natural Bridge, and many other journals. She is also a painter. Her art became an official poster of an art event in Indiana, and she has several art exhibitions along with her poetry. She occasionally participates in poetry, art, and music events in Chicago.



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