Sophia Terazawa: On Forgiving the Man Who Made Me a Poet from His Rib

Sophia Terazawa: On Forgiving the Man Who Made Me a Poet from His Rib

On Forgiving the Man Who Made Me a Poet from His Rib


I knew you as a desert

played across your daddy’s walkman

when we drove past Santa Fe

that summer you lost your job.


I knew you as a canyon

into which we flew while belting

“Sweet Wet Dreams.” The peach

and cherry sherbet sky.


You slid open our sunroof,

climbed until your chest

would pound the wind,

then spread your arms into it


as if rain was all that you had left

to give. When you finally began to howl,

I knew you as a wolf without a crescent

singing back upon his face.


The highway grew into

an empty universe we strung

with yellow bulbs and tulips

pulled in greedy fistfuls


from our mouths. I would

always be your daughter

after that, and when we drove

without our headlights


through a valley, you confessed

that you were thinking

how a man could disappear

inside his body if he wanted.


I said, “Remember how

you used to hit me, dad.”

Then you were quiet,

as I watched you stare into


the dark lines of your palms,

a constellation.


Guerrilla Fighter Manifesto


                        Burn a sewing needle

     through blue flames.


She instructs.


            A mercury brown bottle

                 from below the stove.


Wooden splinters in the finger.  She says:  Nothing

                        compared to what I’ve seen before. 


Gold nuggets taken piece by piece until

               a yellow chest becomes

 the six-inch ginger grater.




                                 One.  Never, ever beg for food.


            Two.  To leave a good impression,

       learn the names of all your captors.


                           Be at ease,

                        and try to use their names

                                    at least once in conversation.


                              Do not quit your day job.


               Three.  Learn how to miscarry the body

                        when they come for you

at last, and keep

     your face concealed, if possible. 


                             Collect your boys when they

start shooting in the dark.  Four.


            Forgive your anger, not your fear.

Forgive your actions, not                    your words.

Forgive your words.  Forgive.  From all of this, a dirge.


I sent my body home / in naming it, became another sister




In her despair, my twin would cut her hair and

bleach it white with silicone around the tips.


I’d walk with her to town.  She was so proud of this:

an airport named for possums upside down.


The tarmac streaked with wax.  I’d watch that body

trip across it.  Who could not leave.  This place.


Another place.  A maverick in place of light.

Who crows.  To crow.  My sister’d shield her ears


then cut my hair again.  This body in two halves.

Who could not leave.  This place.




                    —the twin

beside me left her black hair shorn deep in the ground, our tarmac

stripped as bark of birch, as viper of my eyes.  Once Japanese

a traitor, always then a body

                    split in half.




What place makes this kind of people name their people

citizen.  What kind of light.  What kind of holy man in here.


My twin wants to assimilate, to make an honest living

out of questions:  What.  Your name, where.  It from.


I mean where is it really from, I mean, that dick,

you have one, right, I mean, you people have one, right,


that fair trade, next, a torso, next those yellow hands in droves,

you called us, right, a savage land.  What kind of god is this.


Not body.  Not.  Not shōgun, no, not human.  Human.  Human.

Sophia Terazawa is the author of I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press).