Inverness, FL, USA
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
There was a time,
oh, many years ago,
when I could only see all Japanese
as bitter enemies
and Tokio as the origin
of cowardly crime...
There was the day
when news came seeping through
the barbed wire fence around the camp
that they had bombed
the little town where my beloved,
my one and only lived...
There were the blows,
the kicks, the curses, verbal insults
I had to take, as slave of Dai Nippon.
But, as the years passed by,
I learned to look beyond those things,
discovering tokens of compassion..
A youthful sailor on the ship
which was to carry us as prisoners to Japan,
in view of jeering shipmates, volunteered
to fill some hundred rusty canteen cans
with cool, fresh water for us, his enemies,
parched from a march in blistering heat...
Although to them, we were the murderers
that bombed their cities, killed their kin,
some did what Christ us and them to do,
which was to love our enemies,
so, athe risk of punishment, derision,
they tried to make our lot more bearable...
My good old foreman Hancho-san
paid dearly for his treacherous act
of getting us some high-C peppers:
a spying civil guardsman caught him
and had him beaten up so badly
that he, for days, could barely walk...
Our camp commander, captain X, a cruel man,
was, somehow, married to a lovely Nisei girl
who treated us, behind her husband's back,
to tasty treats of cake and tea
for babysitting Sara-san, her only child.
Dear God, what has become of them?
The great atrocity at Pearl Harbor
was screaming for revenge,
which took a long time coming,
but when it came, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
turned into lakes of molten glass and metal
and deadly dust. And human tears...
But when our enemies became our friends,
hate turned into respect
and traveling bred understanding,
consolidating peace and mutual help.
But we should know that Satan will not cease
to jar our memories, lest we forget...
While many preachers of goodwill
keep telling us we should forgive, forget,
we stubbornly reverse that order, saying,
"We must forget before we can forgive!"
No, first forgive, and you will find:
forgetting has become irrelevant...