Poetry Saturday: Brian Komei Dempster

OVER THE EARTH

— Nanking, 1937

“Over the Earth” by Brian Komei Dempster from Topaz (c) 2013. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.   

I don’t want us
to end here, wondering
who will be first,

our eyes lowered
as the soldiers raise
their blades,

slicing those
ahead of us.
Kneeling by the gutter,

I conjure our home
in fading light.
At the kitchen table

you opened
a bottle of plum wine,
unwrapped paper,

lifted the vein
to filet soft meat.
Now their swords strike

closer, the ground shifts
with each head cut
from its stem,

I hear the thud
of your rolling pin
pounding flour,

the dust rising
like bone smoke.
The edge is near, my love.

Skies darken
into our room,
the clouds a line

of ivory buttons
on the blue silk
of your dress.


Brian Komei Dempster was editor of From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps (Kearney Street Workshop, 2001), which received a 2007 Nissei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and Making Home From War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011)

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