Sunday, March 15, 2015

Margaret Chula: "Afterimage"

They made us leave our orchards
just before the harvest—my daughter
only three and in captivity.

                 juicy Hood River strawberries
                 melt in your mouth
                 stain our hands red 

Eyelashes white with dust
mouths dry with desert heat
we drag thousand-pound rocks.

                 from a springy green stem
                 plump Rainier cherries
                 taste of sun and sugar 

From basalt boulders, moonscape of sand
and alkaline soil, our restless hands build
patches of beauty at Minidoka.

                 the mighty Columbia
                 Mt. Hood rising from the clouds
                 the nourishing rain of my home 

Shielding my eyes from the scorching sun
I breathe in the calmness of our karesansui
perfectly raked sand and upright stones.

"Afterimage" by Margaret Chula, from What Remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps, poems by Margaret Chula, quilts by Cathy Erickson (Katsura Press, 2012). Presented here by poet submission.

Hear the poet contextualize and read the poem.

Art credit: "Steps," quilt by Cathy Erickson, to which the poem was written.


  1. Wow. Undeniably potent, the contrast between the aridity of the desert and its arduous labours, and the nourishment of strawberries, cherries, rain. Thank you for posting this poem.

    1. Glad you liked it, Thomas. Seems pretty rich to me, too.


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