Waiting in an Ishinomaki Classroom

by Cheryl L. Daytec

(Thirty children) sit quietly in the corner of a third-floor classroom where they have waited each day since the tsunami swept into the town of Ishinomaki for their parents to collect them. So far, no one has come and few at the school now believe they will. -The Daily Mail, 18 March 2011

Mama, when the classroom shook

And the teacher told us to be calm

I thought of you and Dad and Baby

I have been waiting here in a corner

Always looking at our newest picture

The one inside the green wallet

You gave me on my 6th birthday

You and Dad… you are smiling

While Baby is clapping her hands

As I stroke the head of my poodle

I think of our home near the sea

My soft low chair in the corner

For when I watch the television

Some classmates are with me

They, too, wait for their parents

At night before we go to sleep

We read books, we play cards

Sometimes we forget, we forget

We are just waiting; when we do

We do not want to play anymore

We want to cry but no one does

We prefer the still, cold silence

To our noise when we play, or cry

Or tell stories or slurp miso soup

In silence we can hear a mother’s voice

Say sweetly, “I am here, my child.”/cldy 25mar2011