Yuko Taniguchi

A Child Hibakusha
by Yuko Taniguchi

−Hiroshima 1946

My mother

When my hair began falling out, my mother got down on her knees and picked up one hair at a time. My hair was everywhere- under the hospital bed, inside my sleeves, on the white wall.

My mother would sweep the floor, press my hair into a black ball between her hands
and put it inside her apron’s pocket. Even after I became bald, the hairs continued to well up

like spring water in the mountain. When the wind came through the window,
my hairs moved like worms on the wet ground. This morning, my hair was inside my mother’s

noodle soup. She filled her mouth with my hair and noodles and
swallowed them all at once.

 

My brother

My brother pushed my swing, and I went up high.
When I came down and passed him, he said he could see the top
of my head, bare, full, and smooth like the belly
of a pregnant woman.

 

My grandmother

Thousands of pieces

of glass flew into my grandmother’s head

like bees into a hive.

After she lost all of her hair, she died.

Inside the coffin, my grandmother’s head shone

as if the stars were buried underneath her skin.

 

My river

River, I’m going to die soon. My grandmother, Cousin Toshi and Mrs. Kamata in the next village all died when they lost their hair.

You keep moving onto the next village, to the ocean and to the rivers in another country.
It would take you one hundred years to come back to Hiroshima again.

You won’t find a bald girl like me.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 1.

Yuko TaniguchiYuko Taniguchi’s first volume of poetry, Foreign Wife Elegy, was published by Coffee House Press in 2004. Her first novel, The Ocean in the Closet, was published by Coffee House Press in 2007. Yuko Taniguchi is an instructor of Writing in the Center for Learning Innovation at the University of Minnesota Rochester. She earned an M.F.A. at the University of Minnesota.

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