But what could I have known–dumb
and white and 10-years-old in
that springtime of Bull Connor
That year, Mr. Shimazu showed us
the ways brightly colored tissue papers
might become delicate cranes, even
in a child’s awkward hands.
That year, I remember, he read aloud to us
stories without pain or tears. And he never
said what his own story must have been
when the dust of war blanketed his world.
But one tranquil California day when
my country was on fire, he handed me
that incendiary book, for reasons
I’ll never know.