top of page

Butsuma by Bern Mulvey


by Bern Mulvey

(published in his 2008 book, The Fat Sheep Everyone Wants, CSU Press)

Time to meet the relatives, only they’re dead.

It’s like a WWII newsreel, all the black-and-white,

the marugari and fukurasuzume hairstyles,

the montsuki, the formal death of kimonos, even a sword

or two. Why am I here? The mother-in-law-to-be

narrates causes of death. This one, stomach cancer,

that one, cerebral hemmorrhage. She fast-forwards

to her brother, machine-gunned then left in a ditch to die.

By Americans, she says. I look up at his picture,

more handsome than I’ll ever be, a dark haired

Emilio Estevez—this was no monster

I am being told. She wants an explanation,

they all do—I know it’s trite, but I feel them,

all 20 or so, they want an apology. And I can’t do it,

and I can’t explain, not here, not before the dead,

how I have my own dead, my great-uncle sodomized

by bayonet until he too died in a place called Bataan.

Senso wa hidoi koto da—War is a horrible thing.

I say this, and she starts to cry. After a while,

she says to me, We will need your picture too,

just in case.

11 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentário

Avaliado com 0 de 5 estrelas.
Ainda sem avaliações

Adicione uma avaliação

So few words say so much.

Thank you for sharing this.

E Frost

bottom of page