1. Books

A look at Lawrence Matsuda's poetry

Lawrence Matsuda is the author of A Cold Wind From Idaho, a book of poems about those of Japanese descent who spent time at internment camps after Pearl Harbor, including his family. His parents were at the War Relocation Center in Minidoka, Idaho, where he was born.
Published Oct. 15, 2014

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.


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