To the Lady

YOU would’ve
come to my aid in shining armor
laid yourself across the railroad track
marched on Washington
tattooed a Star of David on your arm
written six million enraged letters to Congress

But we didn’t draw the line
law and order Executive Order 9066
social order moral order internal order

YOU let’m
I let’m
All are punished

The Question of Loyalty

I met the deadline
for alien registration
once before
was numbered fingerprinted
and ordered not to travel
without permit.

But alien still they said I must
foreswear allegiance to the emperor.
For me that was easy
I didn’t even know him
but my mother who did cried out
If I sign this
What will I be?
I am doubly loyal
to my American children
also to my own people.
How can double mean nothing?
I wish no one to lose this war.
Everyone does.

I was poor
at math
I signed
my only ticket out.



As we boarded the bus
bags on both sides
(I had never packed
two bags before
on a vacation
lasting forever)
the Seattle Times
photographer said
so obediently I smiled
and the caption the next day

Note smiling faces
a lesson to Tokyo.

Yamada, Mitsuye. Camp Notes and Other Writings. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Mitsuye Yamada. Reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press.”