Before me dips Eternity,
Behind me cease morality,
the world through forlorn eyes,
racial lines, and barbed wire lens.
Thought we were spies,
the FBI deemed us
threats to national security:
We were not treated with respect.
How could we spy, my younger siblings and I?
A five-year-old doesn’t have enemies,
cannot send secret messages,
except to children in their class.
Yet everything was packed, two suitcases per person,
military police pointing loaded guns at people
loading then unloading luggage:
There was no persons limit on the train.
From lavish home to shelter, barrack, prison
made of tar paper, arranged in blocks;
20 by 25 feet at least six people deep:
Beds, like the barriers, made of wire.
Behind bars with prison guards
armed with rifle, bayonet: we spied
freedom through barbed wire,
but were too young to understand.
Now, I try to teach my daughter,
telling her of desert dust storms and disease.
We lost our livelihood and traditions in the camps,
and need to salvage what memories we have left.
I tell her I still see the wire, perpetually fenced in and surrounded,
but does that mean anything to her?
I show her my lone relic, an old shovel, of all things,
but does its meaning resonate?
“Never through this shovel away,” I say,
as I try to dig through my history,
the history of our people, our race,
digging for answers to excavate the truth.
And still I am brought back to the wire.
When I used to move I could hear and sense the wire.
I can still see the wire patterns on the mattress, on the walls, in my mind.
But for our people to truly heal, my daughter needs to see the wire too.