The soil, the livestock, our memories of the war,
everything flourishing before it vanishes—breath
severed clean from our bodies, our shadows
sunset-deepened and woven with dirt,
whole family trees succumbed to the blight.
My grandfather returns to life, back still
bent by history’s quiet yoke, his memories
of camp forever decaying into the tiny garden
behind my house where my father’s death
is the soil, where silence blossoms now
all year round. Or the soil is my grandfather
eating darkness, the spectral memory of camp
that feasts upon my father and his father,
me and my son. There are no such things
as ghosts—I tell my son this every evening
as he gazes up the dark stairwell towards his room.
What will be waiting for us when my boy
is old enough to ask where he comes from?
What will we find when our memories of camp
finally molder back into the ground?
From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.
Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.
W. Todd Kaneko is the author of THE DEAD WRESTLER ELEGIES (Curbside Splendor, 2014) and THIS IS HOW THE BONE SINGS (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), and co-author with Amorak Huey of POETRY: A WRITER’S GUIDE AND ANTHOLOGY (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of the literary magazine Waxwing and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.
W. Todd Kaneko