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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2014/3/11/half-girl-from-full-mother/

Half Girl from Full Mother

Long before my mother was ever a child,
She dreamt of my face as her Eurasian song,
Never looking away at my round Asian eyes,
She stared instead deeply, and flowered my rise.

Half Japanese in the length of her sash,
That she folded in silks, she knew me well
Not part of the crowd, and yet full and strong,
We cradled our comforts, as she knew we belonged.

Wanting for nothing in the sorrows of war,
She told herself stories of a day that would pass
When the farmlands her parents grew out of a dream,
Would return with her brothers, in a day of clear sheen.

The terrors of imagining, when she could not sleep,
As she watched her homeland wither weary and deep
Strengthened her mothering, made her dream long,
Of a day when our bonding would sing like a song.

It must have been somber and beautiful still,
As she picked through the land as a poor laid-out girl
Cultivating crops that seemed impossibly dead,
While her torn skirts ruffled in dust and bloodshed.

Still, she whispered in dawn and at dusk,
That I would be blossomed and ripened one day
Still, she called out my name in the dark,
As if everyone heard her as if a keen lark.

With all young men gone for a trench-mouthed war,
Young sisters and mothers hummed and soared
With pans and pots filled with heavy warm soups,
Awaiting each letter and grounded for troops.

Never a lyric was told for her pains,
As she walked liked a princess with nothing to gain
Never I watched her cry or gleam sorrows,
About such sad yesterdays, fears of tomorrows.

Whispering in tongues from a place in her heart,
My mother once told me about my place
I was dreamt of in slumber and kept of notes high,
My half-slanted eyes was her beaming joy-sky.

One day she told me while her face wilted strong,
That there was never a time I could not belong
Even though I cried lightly when called a half-breed,
She lilted and pronounced me a full-seasoned seed.

Birthed by two races, felt into my bones,
I carried all shadows of cultural tone
Yellow and white, the colors of spring,
The waxing and waning of all belonging.

At last my song of the half-girl is sung,
As I spiral it along for my mother's face
At last I have wandered into the song,
That can only be hindered from too much grace.

My mother in her twenties, dressed in a kimono

© 2014 Francesca Biller

hapa literature poetry racially mixed people
About the Author

Francesca Biller is an award winning investigative journalist, political satirist, author, and social commentator for print, radio, and television. With a background of Japanese and Jewish, she writes about her interesting background in both an introspective and humorous way and her work has been been published for The Huffington Post, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and many other publications. Awards include The Edward R. Murrow award, two Golden Mike awards, and four Society of Professional Journalists awards for Excellence in Journalism. Biller is currently writing three books, the first a novel about the 442nd Infantry set in Hawaii, the second a compilation of humorous essays about growing up as a Japanese Jew in Los Angeles during the 1970s, and the third a Lifestyle book about how a diet of Hawaiian, Japanese, and Jewish food keeps her family healthy and happy. She is also currently on a national radio tour discussing her humorous take on politics, pop culture, and families.

Updated June 2012

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