(The title alludes to the photo by W. Eugene and Aileen Smith, in which a mother bathes her crippled, twelve-year-old daughter….  A hundred people died and nearly a thousand were crippled as a result of mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan.)

 

“Daughter, my daughter,

I will hold you with my strong arms

and let the warmth of the water

enter your bent limbs–

 

“O, let the warm water soothe your pain,

my little flower;

I will hold you from the world

which poisoned you,

I will make of our hut a temple

none but the holy shall enter,

only those with pure hearts shall enter,

and they will not turn their eyes from you,

they will look on your delicate beauty.”

 

“Mother, dear Mother,

I can form no words to answer,

for my voice breaks in my heart.

the world in the window is lovely.

The delicate maples are turning;

the sky has the blue of the obi

I wore on the Day of the Children.

I feel the sun on my temple.”

 

“The world is full of delusions–

a play where great hearts are broken!

I will hold you from darkness, my daughter,

I will give you the strength of my limbs.”

 

“Forgive me, Mother…

I can never repay your kindness.

The warmth of your body is soothing

even my stiff, crooked limbs.”

 

Gary Corseri has published novels, books of poetry and a literary anthology (editor). His dramas have been performed on PBS-Atlanta, and he has read his poems at the Carter Presidential Center. His articles have appeared at The New York Times, Village Voice, The Greanville Post, etc.


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