retreat to

Sophie leaned against the wall, letting the sun play with her thin gray locks. She stared quietly at Kit--arms crossed, daring her to begin the lesson.

"Amy, it wasn't as if the town accepted your great-grandfather after that," Kit went on with the story as if she were summing it up for a jury. "They let Sophie into school, but dragged her out again in '42. Then in 44, the War Relocation Authority took the West Coast Japanese, stripped them of everything and sent them to relocation camps.

They let a few young men out of Amachi down south to work your great-grandfather's farm. In spite of the war effort, in spite of needing every breathing body to produce food for the patriots, few would have the free labor. Your great-grandfather took them, paid them, kept the faith together.

But the waves of hatred tore down any unity. They scattered the Issei, the first generation, alienated the Nisei, the second generation, and bewildered the Sansei, the third generation.

Your great-grandfather led the Issei in that chant that every morning, every evening. Even the Issei shut up in Tule Lake, imprisoned for the land of their birth. They heard him and joined in. At least that is the version your great-grandfather insisted on. He was adamant that the other voices had joined him, had merged with his soul, his thoughts. I don't know. In all the years of chanting, I never heard any voices but your great-grandfather's."

Sophie broke in at this point, laying her hand lightly over Kit's. "Amy, your great-grandfather said the chanting was the only way the Issei would survive. 'To live,' he said, 'you must retreat into your soul until you can bear the enlightenment.'"

Kit said nothing at this point. The distant chanting framed the silence.

waves hunch / and crest / in empty air / strike madly on / the shore forever / churn spray / retreat to / breathe again

the word is / the sound / of water / dripping from/ ancient symbols / tiny particles / of merging / realities

Follow us all: Amy/Anna, Sophie/Yuki, Kit/Richard, minor characters or sift through water leavings and river journeys.