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Morning Newspaper

Eri Sakata, of Japanese and Black heritage, speaks at the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Remembrance Aug. 6 at Loose Park, KC MO.--Photo by Jim Hannah

By Eri Sakata

We sat in the kitchen inside a house atop a hill surrounded by rice paddies in Osaka, Japan.

With tennis ball hands, I grasped grey newspaper my grandfather unearthed from sliding closet doors.

Furrowed, silver-speckled brows adorned his forehead, his shoulders tilted with urgency.

My ojichan, who I often called Papa, gestured towards the paper—marked with a life-time of yesterdays.

With juvenile pupils, I saw it—stained in black and white: an image of a country shaken, shuddering, crumbling with rubble.

The headline whistled through my conscience with irony. The country where I envisioned my home was cited as the creator of the rubble. The sole producer of the carnage. The country I CALLED home pursued pain towards the people—the family I knew as home. Though the paper whispered bruised and wisened stories from the past—its tone was a still and solemn shout through my mind.

That day, my grandpa instilled within my conscience a rawness—an enlightening truth previously absent from my youth.

America—globally poised as a vision of freedom, unity, and liberation—hung like a falsified fairytale from the nape of my perspective. Its red-striped flag lay tattered amongst the crimson rubble of my Japanese ancestors.

Amongst the carnage at their fingertips.

Amongst the headlines of my childhood.

The nuclear past seemed not far from reach, nestled within the safety of that kitchen. And since that day, the red-striped flag has NEVER hung the same.

—Eri Sakata read this poem at the Aug. 6 Hiroshima & Nagasaki Remembrance in KC MO.—Photo by Jim Hannah. © 2023, Eri Sakata, Jim Hannah, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License

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