August 7, 2009
Her plea haunted me
As I sat in a darkened classroom
Watching a film about Hiroshima.
Wailed in Nihongo
Pierced through my heart.
We watch in the dark
Learning the people
Burning from inside out
Jumped into the river for relief
“Okasama, Tatsukete kure!”
She had a mother.
She was a human.
She was a sister.
She is my sister.
She is your sister.
Hiroshima is personal.
The Navaho mothers
Spoke up first.
The uranium pits
The tailings are streaks of death
Leaking into the water.
Promises of jobs
Brought death to the children
Raise your voices, they demanded
And stand with the mothers
They are our mothers
They are your mothers
The elderly monk remembers Hiroshima
He remembers the blinding flash
The black rain
The obscene darkness
And the death.
His young heart hardened with hate.
His Okasama rescued him.
“Heal your heart,” she said.
“Keep the flame alive,”
She had captured a firey fragment that had fallen
From the August sky,
“Keep it alive.
That flame will be a prayer
A small flicker of hope
That this will never happen again.
Work hard to
Keep the FLAME alive,
And let the hate dwindle and die.”
That is the way of life she gave her son,
To pray. To keep the small flame alive.
And she said, “Always remember
And this good son
Dedicated his life to prayer
A prayer for humanity
A prayer for peace.
The elderly monk kept the flame from his youth
A firey fragment from the white sky
Now a flame of memory
A flare of commitment for
All around the world
The monk kept the flame alive
To pass on to a peace pilgrim from America
A descendant of the eastern woodland tribes.
The peace pilgrim kept the flame alive flying home to America
The pilgrim kept the flame alive praying
Walking, joined by others along his way
Black, Brown, Red and White,
Christian, Jew, Muslim,
Drumming the First Nation Drum
Chanting a Buddhist song
And walking across America.
They walked together around the empty pit of the twin towers
They walked the Atlantic Coast.
They walked through cities, towns and farmland.
They walked to the Canadian border of Washington
And the evergreens witnessed their prayers.
They walked through our community
In a downpour
And were met at the Many Nations Longhouse,
with a Welcome Song and warm food.
Carrying the flame still burning,
They prayed here
In this valley
They prayed that there be no more Hiroshimas
Through rolling hills
Other valleys cut out by rivers
And finally into the desert land of Four Corners.
They joined the mothers of the Navaho nation
They put the flame into a circle on the earth it had come from,
A prayer fire
Back to its source.
The pilgrims prayed with the mothers
of the Navaho Nation
The pilgrims prayed with
The spirits of the ancestor daughters of Hiroshima
Carrying their cries in their own hearts, as a prayer
Save us from war
A prayer for peace around the world.
They let the smoke carry their prayers
To the Great Maker of all things
Until the fire finally burned itself out.
Peace is personal, one person at a time,
Peace is intentional
A journey made one step after another.
Walk behind the ancestor-daughter who cried out to her okasama
“Tatsukete kure!” Save me, Mother!
Walk behind the Navaho mothers
“Save our Mother Earth for the sake of the children
And their children for seven generations.
Walk with the peace pilgrims who brought the flame home
Praying, walking on our good Mother Earth saying to everyone they met
“Tatsukete kure! Everyone.”
Save the earth and all that lives on it.
Fire is meant only for prayer
For cook fires
For bringing us together.
No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!
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