Deeper than Roots

I am from the south of Japan,
26.5 degrees north, 127.93 degrees east.
The salty blue water,
to the soft, golden sand.

Land of the Rising Sun,
veins running with Uchinanchu blood.
Saying “Ohayo gozaimasu,”
and then hearing “konowarabiiya.”

I am from the ancient Ryukyu symbol,
“Ocean, Peace,  and Development.”
Northern Cape Hedo,
to southern tip of Itoman.

Eating sweet Sataandagi,
crisp with sugar cane or beniimo.
Obon and Chinese New Years,
to Children’s Day and Otoshidama.

I am from the thudding of Eisa drums,
hearing “Iyasasa” chanting through the neighborhood.
Sitting on your knees on Tatami,
to bowing so low you kiss your knees.

Burning under the radiating sun,
brown skin and terrible tan-lines.
Waking up for 4 A.M. sunrise runs at Awase Seawall,
to late nights at Mihama under the stars.

I am from Awamori and Orion,
Yamashiro family gatherings.
Getting Umeboshi and bentos,
to Family Mart runs at 12 P.M.

Dressing in Kimonos and Yukatas,
traditionally sewn with bingata designs.
Suicide Cliffs and Peace Memorial Park,
to tombs in the shape of a mother’s womb.

I am from Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji
Stuck in between the voice of two tongues.
Two vastly different worlds,
lost in translation.

I am from 70 miles long,
7 miles wide.
From Okinawa, Japan
where my heart lies.


This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country


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