A Poet's Kiss

Albuquerque poet Mary Oishi puts poems, pictures, and thoughts here for her family and friends, and for lovers of poetry everywhere.

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Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Thursday, September 07, 2006

a beautiful homecoming


When I was at the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, I witnessed a very moving event when Winnie Mandela spoke to a huge tent full of people. She said, "As I look out over the crowd, I see that many of you have ancestors who were stolen from this continent centuries ago. For some of you, it's your first time back. I say, it's about time--and welcome home!" With that, those in the audience from the African diaspora jumped to their feet, waved their arms, tears streaming down their faces. I wept too, thinking how healing it would be if I were to go back to Japan, my mother's homeland, and get such a beautiful welcome home. I had no idea that five years later that's exactly what would happen. I was invited to give a speech at Wakakusa School, with over 400 teenagers in the audience, as well as faculty (sensei) and administrators. I spoke of my personal history, being a child of a Japanese warbride and an American soldier. I spoke of the suffering on all sides and the lingering effects of World War II. I spoke of the absolute necessity for peace. After my speech and question and answer period, a young man came up on the stage and said a few remarks in English about the importance of my words. And a young woman placed these beautiful flowers in my arms. I was choking back tears. It was a consummate moment in my life.

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