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In Okinawa, it takes

             49 days for a turtle to hatch
                        and scramble to the sea.

             49 days for the soul to journey
                                  west to the next world.

It took me

             49 years to cross the Pacific
                        west to the islands of my grandparents.

In my mind, they scold me:

             You stayed buried in the sand too long.
                                  No wonder you lost your way.

Blood Memory

“I know I have the blood of survivors / coursing through my veins.”
—Kwame Dawes

The ache of the phantom limb
is the body’s memory of the lost arm or leg long
after the member has taken off for the hereafter.

The body remembers better than the mind.
The mind buzzes hither and yon sniffing for new sweetness.
The body is the elephant’s memory.

You forget the names of streets and shopping lists.
But body memory is riding a bike or getting hit in the face.
Your body is a mammoth that never forgets.

Then there is blood memory: the river of secret wounds
you receive from your parents and their parents.
The rapes, starvations, massacres—every kind of betrayal.

What the mind lets go, your body holds tight.
And the blood flows into the future,
remembering everything—our horror,
                       and our hard-earned honey too.

Sharon Suzuki-Martinez’s first book, The Way of All Flux, won the New Rivers Press MVP Poetry Prize for 2010. She was a finalist for the 2018 Best of the Net, was awarded a residency at the Anderson Center at Tower View, and a fellowship from Kundiman, among other honors. Originally from Hawaii, she now lives in Arizona, USA.


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