Kiyomi Kishaba

This is Kiyomi Kishaba’s third and final year editing for Saxifrage. She is graduating in May with degrees in English Writing and Communications and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Her poems in Saxifrage are part of her poetry capstone, “We Are All Ancestry.” In her free time she enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and eating chocolate.

Bachan says

it was dusty. The floorboards cracked
and creaked and nails stuck out from the walls like bony
limbs reaching to snag on your clothes. Bachan says 
it was cramped and crowded, two parents and four
siblings and one room, one straw mattress, one 
stove. Bachan says her sister was born screaming 
in the camp hospital. Bachan says the summers parched 
her vocal cords and the winters froze her fingers and the months
in between trudged on like soldiers in mud. Bachan says 
the boy next door disappeared one morning torn
away from his family, too prideful of heritage to be an American
boy training and shooting and slaughtering boys who looked
like him. Or maybe he was just afraid. Bachan says her mother
taught her how to knit crochet stars into a pillowcase,
a table cloth, a bed spread until she saw the pattern in shadows
behind her eyelids when she began to dream. Her father owned 
a laundromat before the trains came, before
all they owned they could carry. In Heart Mountain he worked
at the camp police station and wore a badge on his chest 
where his heart beat, betrayed. After bursting against 
the taut skin along his belly like a bullet lodged 
out of sight, Bachan says her father lost 
his appendix.


a daughter fumbling to make an origami crane, 
loose folds relaxing wings and spine

until the pink paper lays almost flat. a 
mother stretching and tucking fine

dough, folds sagging inside the clear glass 
bowl. a father stabbing a shovel into coarse

dirt, loosening rocks like icebergs in grass
to plant a pomegranate tree into disturbed folds 

of soil. a daughter unbraiding 
braided hair, brown and thick as rope, each

strand curved like a tree root. a mother adding
notes to her recipe, fold twelve times, leave

to rest. a father sleeping next to unfolded 
laundry with a book spread open on his chest, 

its backbone raised like a tent. a daughter
smudging ink, a mess of unfolding 

thoughts planted in paper like seeds 
sprinkled in dirt.