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All In Her Day’s Work

All In Her Day’s Work

By Andrew Kumasaka
For The North American Post

My grandparents Matahei ahd Sadaye KawaguchiChildren left to right My mother Yuriko uncles Mas and Tosh

For Sadaye Kawaguchi

My grandmother washes rice in a heavy black pot
that itself could carry a good-sized family This is her daily ritual
Hands reddened by the sting
of cold water flowing
swish the tiny starchy grains
clockwise at first — then counterclockwise
clock — then counter
around and around
for a long time

Out of the swirling depths — the white talc rises
ghosts taking flight
Long ago souls whirl about
spirits ascending from the buried past
Maybe she sees her own face now

the young Sadaye
the beautiful bride to be
startled by the bushy eyebrows
of the stranger she will someday love

the brash suitor
daring to bring her only half a carp
The rest is waiting — he said
across the tilting bowl
of the ocean

Or is it Masanori she sees
the boy who dies in America
one year past
his birth

All this turning and twirling
the curling apparitions — afloat for the moment
hover over
the day’s next meal

After changing the water she resumes
washing with the same brisk strokes
but the talc is almost gone
Maybe her face appears older now
disturbed by the harsh stir of water
distorted by the agitation of water
anguished by the turbulence
of water

A large pot of rice for the family
and finally the churning is done
She stands without words
as she wrings out her hands
staring deeply into the sustenance
of generations

Rice soaking in a heavy black pot
cleansed by the water that pours
so easily from around her hands
the hands that work through all their chores
beneath the steady gaze of dry
unclouded eyes

Andrew Kumasaka
was born in Chicago and grew up in Se­at­tle. A psy­chi­a­trist, he retired after thirty years of private practice. His poems have ap­peared in various literary journals. His debut novel, “All Gone Awry,” was released in Sep­tem­ber 2021. His poem on his father is “Cheju Island, 1952” (napost.com, 2022).
Andrew and his wife live in Soquel, California. They have two grown sons.