To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain,
render the insoluble. She envied
the past its incursions, yet the past yields to all,
avoidance to acceptance, trees to smoke.
My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come.
Now it sits on my shelf bearing implements of music.
In her last days I played Sakura on the mandolin,
trusting that she might find comfort
in the blossoms fluttering through the failing notes,
a return to mornings
of tea and rice, of
warmth and paper walls and deep laughter.
Today the rain spells forgive
and every idea becomes form, every shadow a symptom,
each gesture a word, a naming in silence.
Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed.
Robert Okaji lives in Texas. “Ashes” was featured on Extract(s) and is included in his chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform, to be released in April 2015, as Dink Press’s first offering in its National Poetry Month Series. You can find him at his blog.