I Have Misplaced Entire Languages
Neither this tongue nor that still dwells in my house.
The hole of remembrance constricts, leaving behind only debris.
As a child I mixed three languages in family discourse.
Now only one is comprehensible, and I abuse it daily.
The woman in the blue dress stands alone on the pier, weeping.
A pidgin is a simplified language developed between groups with no
common tongue. Sounds form easily, but meanings struggle.
My father is shipped to Korea without warning.
Some words insert epenthetic consonants to separate vowels. Years
later we arrive in Italy and my mother starts receding.
A fourth language emerges.
This morning I asked, “Ame?” “Yes,” she said, “but just drizzling.”
Some families share no common language and must forge without.
We have used pain, pane and pan without reference to etymology.
Having abandoned the familiar, she chose another, never accepting the loss.
These unarticulated forms, these memories we have not traced.
What Edges Hold

Listen to Robert Okaji read "What Edges Hold."

By which I mean those lines framed in certainty: the demarcation of sunlight and shadow. Kami signifies not spirit, but rather that force above man.
Never religion, but life itself: the mountains, trees, the rocks. Lightning.
Or waves, thundering off the coast, tugged by the moon.
Stirring the water with a spear, Izanagi dripped an island into being.
Separate the ordinary through limitation, by practice, by ritual and space.
Another night in the twisted trees. The god-shelf.
Recognize that wind respects no borders.
Knowing that to the east questions may respond to answers I have long
suspected, I look elsewhere. After the vowel, the consonant.
Though torii differ in style, each retains two posts and a crosspiece.
After the consonant, the winnowed tunnel, extinguished light.
At the gate, bow respectfully, then enter. Ladle water from right to left,
then left to right. Pour it into your left hand, then cleanse your mouth.
Invert and regard the precipice.
I have placed one foot in their world. The other still searches.
Wherein the Book Implies Source
And words form the vessel by which we traverse centuries, the river
stitched across the valley’s floor, easing access.
Accession by choice. Inorganic memory.
Vellum conveys its origin: of a calf.
How like an entrance it appears, a doorway to a lighted space.
Closed, it resembles a block of beech wood.
To serve as conveyance, to impart without reciprocity.
Framing the conversation in space, immediacy fades.
The average calfskin may provide three and a half sheets of writing material.
Confined by spatial limitation, we consider scale in terms of the absolute.
The antithesis of scroll; random entry; codex.
A quaternion equaled four folded sheets, or eight leaves: sixteen sides.
Reader and read: each endures the other’s role.
Pippins prevented tearing during the drying and scraping process.
Text first, then illumination.
Once opened, the memory palace diminished.