Sea of Small Fears

by Dede Wilson

 

MY SON, WHO WORKS IN JAPAN,
TELLS ME HE’S BOUGHT
AN OLD SAILBOAT

 

Fear is the call
of a bay beyond Okazaki
where my son stows his boat,
new salt in his sails.

I sit on my heels, peeling
pods of the money plant.
Lunaria. Moon-white
papery sails

luff over the lawn,
into the willow, its corkscrew limbs.
I chip brown husks, flick away the seeds.
My mind is heavy with child.

I will mail
a thick guide in English, explicit,
for how can he dare
to sail in Japanese?

 


SAILING TO SAKUSHIMA

 

The sun is a basket of fire
over the side of the boat,

the only dark a cormorant
dipping for fish. One leak, after all,

and it has succumbed to repair.
The boat is tidy and proud.

Our sails are filled
with easy breaths of the wind.

We tack the harbor waters,
swell into the bay.

Someone’s sunstruck daughter
lolls on the deck like a plum.

Here, in Mikawa Bay,
the water is blue in the light.

Gone the shoreline shadow
murked by mist and rain.

Maps are spread on deck
and we sail to Sakushima

to anchor and swim. Stone
lanterns are weighting

the shore, but we are as light
as the froth on the sea

or a glass of Asahi
raised to a boat.


GAIJIN

 

Under the half-open hatch, cold
rain in weeping season is pulping my Basho.

The boys, below, are patching the hull
with glass cloth and resin. Tonight the festival

fireworks end and sky’s wet skin will hold
the dark unbroken. Mariko-chan is waiting

for us with her hair up. Perhaps even now
she is filling it with combs. The sleeves

of her cotton yukata tack and sail
across her wall. While she waits I hear

the wind like a syamisen. It is
the night of O-bon, when the dead return.

We are the unblessed children.


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