By Greer Nakadegawa-Lee
If I kick you out of the stores.
If I spit on your name.
If I leave graffiti on your walls.
If I dismantle your face into propaganda,
If I force you to pack your life into garbage bags,
as if to show you just how much I value it,
will you bear it?
Will you still let me call you my children afterwards?
If I suffocate you in wire will you still fight my wars for me?
If I treat you like animals will you try to make your hands more human,
make crafts with them,
try to convince one another that things could be worse.
Does it bother you
that when I teach your grandchildren what I did to you,
I will use my calmest tone of voice.
I will emphasize the sound of running water,
of chuckling through the thin walls,
I will talk about what a stoic prisoner you were.
If I wind you up now,
do you still smile?
Do you still march around the room,
If I pick you up now do you still hang your arms limp-
Will you let me put your body on the operating table,
let me keep the parts of you I want to play with?
*This poem is copyrighted by Greer Nakadegawa-Lee (2022).
to be continued (June 10)
Greer Nakadegawa-Lee is 17 years old and a senior at Oakland Technical High School. She has written a poem every day for over three years now, and she was the 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. Her first chapbook, “A Heart Full of Hallways,” is out now with Nomadic Press.
This article was originally published in discovernikkei.org, which is a project of the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles.