Nisei Luncheon Club
They look me over
all conversation stops as I enter the room.
refusing to meet my eyes
she’s different than us
cluck cluck tsk tsk
she can’t even speak Japanese
don’t serve her any green tea.
A very quiet crowd (I think)
I make small talk desperately
they answer reluctantly —
all in Japanese
what does she eat
they sniff and snoop
what is in her bento box
no steamed white rice, no pickled plums
what kind of girl is this
who brings lunch in a paper bag?
Weeks pass by its always the same
the silence is choking my air
so today I plan to bring my sweet flan
to soften their scaly hides.
As I stand outside the luncheon door
the laughter, the sharing, the laughter
are they talking about me?
her husband is Puerto Rican, Reiko says
she smells of garlic and black beans
why is she here
she’s hybrid trash
their words recoil round the room
as I open the door
my flan flies across the floor
on the chairs on their hair
on their Nisei frosted faces
on their age old, yellowed pearls
they cried and gasped
and I laughed,
and I laughed
Alone I cry.
September 7, 2021, word count 219
Beautiful Bento lunch with white steamed rice and one pickled plum on top.
Nisei: Second generation Japanese who immigrated before WW2 to America and other countries. In this poem–America.