Grace M photo

photo of Saddlehorn Lane, Vale, Oregon ©Grace Morizawa, 2019

One morning when I was nine

a half sphere of red radiated over the river bluffs

a mirage calmed the waters of the Snake

always wild with torrents and eddies

just under the surface.

Our yellow school bus headed straight for the sun.

We knew our bus would fly

over the rise and our stomachs would sink.

We could hear the gravel spraying

Like water into the ditches on either side of the road.


The brakes squealed. We flew forward our hands

Grasped the bars on the seats in front of us.

Two dogs stood on the road

Back to back. Their bodies straight and taut.

We waited.

It was daylight.


That summer I met the girls from Vale

Picking strawberries

Plucking that sweet red fruit.

They knew about doing it.

Their farms had pigs, sheep and cows.

They told me we could have splashed

Water over the dogs.


One day we went skinny-dipping

in the Malheur at the river’s bend.

All you could see on the banks were

The tules and wild sunflowers.

Turning our backs from each other we

spread our clothes over the cattails.

Splashed into the stream.

We crossed our arms over our breasts

Even though we were still like boys.


We laughed about getting clean, getting the

strawberry stains off our fingers and our knees.

Staying in the cool water forever.


©Grace Morizawa, 2019

Grace Morizawa (BAWP 1988 and 1991), taught elementary school in Oakland and was a principal in San Pablo. Currently she is writing curriculum on the Japanese American incarceration for National Japanese American Historical Society.










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