“Potluck” by Marilyn Iwama

…today’s crisis is one of unconscious feeling of ultranationalism in
Japan. A very big feeling…

—O̅e Kenzaburō (Nobel Laureate, 1994)

What’s going to happen to O̅e Kenzaburō now,
with grandsons of the war crying banzai
again, calling justice masochism?

Did you hear the news?
They’re saying Nanking is a lie.

They’re saying
the women wanted comfort,
moving up.

In someone’s idea of a world, maybe.
A world free of mirrors
like the one O̅e hoards in his pocket
against the possibility
a feeble general might be having second thoughts,
might dare his reflection. Remember

our last getting-to-know-you potluck?
How determined we were to gather
nations in our kitchen?
Remember our guest shouting
girl you don’t know anything they don’t teach you
anything your grandfathers destroyed our country raped
our grandmothers…

Remember how you and the girl sat across the table,
sharing the spittle of the woman’s words?

How she went on.

Until all that remained was to cradle the girl
in the nursery, crooning
all the pretty little horses as if
I might mother the war away.

The tears in the girl’s eyes.
Her obedient body.

Works Cited

  • Iwama, Marilyn. Potluck. Canadian Literature 179 (2003): 70–71. Print.