Monday, April 09, 2012

Day 9: Here Lies the Thing I Most Desire

This project has been an incredible journey so far.  What an amazing thing to get to dig and dig into the history of the community I grew up in!  At it's root history means to ask.  The fragility and disparity of history is easiest to see in local history because you are so close to the source.  What is history but a lot of people telling stories.  I guess the writers job is to unwind a few of those yarns and look at them more closely before they fall apart.  Today's prompt brought me on an interesting journey.  I was researching the immigrants who founded the apple industry here in Sebastopol and came across an interesting story of what happened to Japanese-Americans living in Sebastopol when they were interned during World War II.  We are lucky to have an incredible Buddhist Temple in town named Enmanji (which means garden of fulfillment).  The temple was built by the Manchurian Railroad and displayed at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.  After the fair the building was donated and shipped to our town.  There were many familys effected by the internment.  For some, neighbors harvested their fruit and paid the tax on their lands to keep them afloat (like the Furusho family), for others (like the original heirs of Fountaingrove the Nagasawa family) everything was lost.  For today's draft, I tried to think about what it would have been like being stuck at the desert internment camps, so far away, listening to stories of worries and fear and not knowing what to believe.

There Lies the Thing I Most Desire
            for the Furusho family

Dark oaks spun their crippled fingers over
the star-slurred sky the night our family left
our apple orchard for internment camp.
Now, we live in horse stalls where air is stiff
and void of fog.  I’ve paced these wooden planks
worrying futilely over the harvest
we left behind day and night but there is
no wind here strong enough to carry my
prayers back to our temple Enmanji.
Now its name, garden of fulfillment, stings,
like a face slap.  Letters from the Holte and
Williams boys promise to pick and sell our
fruit but trust is difficult to plow here
each stall where whispers root and spread their rot
wood to wood just as the oaks roots carry
fungus that left will kill your apple trees.

1 comment:

Walt said...

In the little farm community of Merced, about the time your mother became a human baby, there was a place where folks of Japanese ancestry were forced to live. It was the Merced County Fairgrounds. We were at war with Japan, Italy and Germany, but no Italians or German families were disrupted. Most of these families lost their property forever due to the obvious inability to pay local government property taxes....