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MY GRANDMOTHER’S PORTRAIT - Poem

MY GRANDMOTHER’S PORTRAIT
Nagoya, 1945

There was a Mitsubishi factory 

around the corner of Shrine Ave. 

It was surrounded by a tall 

concrete wall. My grandmother used to work 

in the enclosure 


sewing buttons on Japanese Naval uniforms.


When she did not have enough 

needle and thread, she glued them on the cloth.

She had already stayed 


there thirty three days.


There were new girls 


walking along the wall to work. 

Their cheeks were brown with suntanned skin. 

My grandmother explained 


how she found their bodies.


Their sleeves were caught by the barbed wire. 

The blocks collapsed on the heads and torsos.

There was no blood 


but their arms were black like coal.


My grandmother straddled 

downed power lines.

She crossed the burnt 

pumpkin field to a barber shop.

Behind it, 


her younger sister stood. 

Her hair was covered with glass and lice.

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