Seattle poet and educator Lawrence Matsuda was born at the Minidoka, Idaho, War Relocation Center during World War II. His parents were among the 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were interned in such camps without criminal charges or due process for about three years after Pearl Harbor. This poem is from A Cold Wind From Idaho, his book about that experience. He will present it at noon Saturday (Oct. 25) in USF Science and Technology 123. Ba-chen is a Japanese word for "grandmother."
Quicksilver messenger of the gods,
Ba-chen missed her Pacific Northwest sprites
disguised as iridescent birds. They
hovered outside her Seattle kitchen window.
Couldn't follow her to the Idaho desert.
In a dream she escaped Minidoka,
her Icarus wings disintegrated mid-air
so a hummingbird crashed to earth —
green feathers and bones blown,
then snagged in sagebrush
outside the barbed wire.
Spiders caught broken green
plumage in webs near the barrack,
a gossamer dream catcher,
organic resting place.
A feather like a stone
tipped the scale against her.