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