More Words

Japanese_intern_lgIn Portland, the exclusion order issued on April 28, 1942, required all Portland residents [of Japanese descent} to report by May 5 to the assembly center in North Portland. Other orders followed around the state, with those from Hood River and Marion counties sent to Pinedale in northern California. Because people could only take what they could carry, families had to dispose of their businesses, furniture, and personal possessions. They had no idea where they were going or when they would return. It was a time of doubt, fear, and confusion.
-Oregon Encyclopedia

I was trying to imagine this.  You may have lived in Oregon your entire life.  You’re given one week to leave your home, your friends, your whole existence.  I wondered what kind of impression these events would have made on a young child.   I have an eight-year old son.  How would he make sense of this?   What would I tell him?  In the CMNW video my friend Nola Bogle, the wonderful jazz vocalist, talks about her personal experience.  She was four years old when her family was removed to Minnedoka Internment camp.

The Territory Mvt. 6: Stones into Blossoms

Mama where’s my room in this cold gray shack so far from home?
Patience daughter, sheltered in the lee of the cedar trees heavy with snow…

is a tiny bird, they have clipped her wings and she’s all alone.
Still her singing whispers on the wind
like the rain that falls on these dusty stones.

Mama what’s this fence?  This does not make sense. What did we do wrong?
Patience daughter, listen to the breeze through the cherry trees by the temple pond.

All the things we packed will they give them back? When do we go home?
We are drifting blossoms scattered to the ground like the stones that fall from the garden walls.

We are people without place.Girl @ Minnedoka-16
Tossed like stones on a riverbed.
In a promised land with a foreign face
for our heritage denied.
All our dreams stuffed in one suitcase
sink like stones to a river bed
“Shi kata ga nai” there are stones in our hearts.

Mama where are my friends? Will this nightmare end?
When can we go home?
Patience daughter ,gather up your tears lest this dusty land turn our hearts to stone.

We are people without place.
Tossed like stones on a riverbed.
They ignore our deeds and condemn our race,
for our heritage denied.
All our dreams stuffed in one suitcase
sink like stones to a riverbed.
“Shi kata ga nai” there are stones in our hearts.

We are people without place.
Tossed like stones on a riverbed.
In a promised land with a foreign face
for our heritage denied.
All our dreams stuffed in one suitcase
sink like stones to a riverbed

Close your eyes turn stones into blossoms, stones into blossoms

Internment memerial

(The phrase “Shikata ga nai” translates as “it cannot be helped,” and was an oft heard refrain in the face of this injustice.)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s