two poems

By Laura Foley

Winds of War

Dad would sit on the edge of my bed, 
tell me the same story, a girl of eight, my age, 
could fly wherever she liked, 
on a magic carpet. 

Her name, he’d say, gazing 
into space, was Yasumé. 
The best word I ever heard.
At ease, in Japanese. 

I tried seeing myself as Yasumé,
wished to take him 
on the carpet with me, 
free him from his memories— 

dank camp walls, rats, chronic hungers, 
barbed wire fences, 
where he was imprisoned 
for four years.

But, instead of soft tropical winds 
lifting a tapestried rug, 
I could feel only winter raging in 
across a frigid North China Sea.
Mom’s Dreams

The worst, she said, 
were when she had to choose

one out of four,
watch the other children drown.

She said this lightly, as the two of us
picnicked in a maple’s waving shadows,

on grass fresh and clean as a new beginning,
as we drove cross country that summer.

She let me choose that trips’ motels—
the teddy bear my favorite. 

She sometimes let me steer,
throw quarters in the toll basket,

or nap, my head heavy on her soft lap 
as she smoked, filling the ashtray 

with lipsticked filters, while I savored
the familiar acrid scent.

I don’t know if either of us sensed
she did save me from the drowning depths

of Dad’s rage, older sisters’ mayhem—
or what either of us might have done

differently, if we had known her love
could save only one of us.

Photo by Gras Grun