Poetry from a new voice


By Emily Leithauser

You moved to Tokyo first, and Mother forgot
to shut your suitcase: your shirts tumbled out,
un-ironed themselves, lifted off the car
like kites. You sent back teacups, newspapered,
a flowered fan she opened with one shake.
When we arrived you bought us bonsai trees,
but only you knew what to do with them.
And then you lost your job, and we moved away,
leaving the trees with Japanese friends who sent
wagashi and dwindling news year after year.

Now Mother’s dead, and no one will toss out
a dish sponge or a pillow. I buy you three:
two maples and one species I can’t pronounce.
You’ll trim the nail-sized leaves and twist the limbs
of what will soon be our inheritance.


Emily Leithauser, a PhD student in English at Emory University, has published poems and translations in Literary Imagination, Measure, Able Muse, The Raintown Review, and other journals.

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