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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




                    Yokohama, 1948

A trunk, blue as a lustrous Crayola,
horizontal as a coffin, pumping
legs beneath, glided down a bridge from ship

to shore, like a coal car steaming down
a straightaway, its puffs of labor felt,
not seen. Just three, hand in my mother's hand,

I saw from our high perch the trunk upend
itself, and a little man—black hair, white coat,
a Coolie—unfold to upright himself

from below the toppled trunk. Another
man, tan uniform, sunglasses peering up:
"There's Daddy," my weeping mother waved a year

away. We walked the gangplank too. After
fourteen days we left the rocking deck at last:
and here, little people, a scurried cartoon

crowd that wheeled around a tremulous garden,
which like a strutting peacock swelled and spilled
its reds, yellows, pinks from a gunnysack

swamping a tiny woman, her back
of fluttering petals bent low, like the Coolie,
as if she bore the weight of beauty for us all:

her dying flowers, her happy teeth
and golden skin, her humble bow,
as if we would be safe on her fertile ground.


© by Greg McBride


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