I chase their bright twenties
and the steeple of their youth.
The shrine folds in—a factory of small wings
Zoom and inhale the traces of their hajimemashite
in tides of fish, rain, traffic.
The route he swims—from colony to metropole,
through dust of sugar and camphor.
The church camping trip—he makes eyes
at a girl—who later marries her god.
The night where he finally sees her
street view of their first stroll after Sunday mass
hands polite as warm summer rain.
How she comes to love him—country boy rising from the edge
of her father’s erstwhile empire, into its heart.
My eyes try to find them—columns of persistence
scrolling through the underbrush.
My shadow, a kaiju on their map.
Their welcome is uncertain.
I translate this search
between my family’s four languages—trying
not to lose
the feathered details
of their tiny, hand-drawn hearts.
“Search History” by Kenji C. Liu (from Map of an Onion), “Sigh by the Sea” by Bitter Party