April 2, 2017
Indigenous

—JL Kato
Posted in celebration of National Poetry Month

“The peony is unfit to be Indiana’s official flower because it is not native to the state.”
                                                                                                 —Letter to the editor

Peony roots
plucked
from Asian gardens
refuse
to surrender
in Indiana clay.
Purple stalks
grunt,
groan,
extend themselves
toward an April sky.
By May, they explode:
bursts
of white and pink.
In June, drowsy
blossoms bow,
bent by a westerly breeze.
Delicate petals
complete a chain:
The sun that shines
in Chiba
heats fields
of a German-speaking
farmer in Churubusco.
The sliver of moon
that hangs over
Kyoto casts
light on a dashboard
of a Polish-American trucker
from Kosciusko County.

 
—JL Kato (Marion County)

This poem is from Shadows Set in Concrete (Restoration Press, 2010).

JL Kato is a native of Japan. His poetry collection, Shadows Set in Concrete, chronicles his experience as an immigrant. His poems have been published in such publications as Paterson Literary Review, Raintown Review, Contemporary American Voices, Arts & Letters, Tipton Poetry Journal, as well as in several anthologies. Kato and his wife, Mary Hawn, co-founded Poetry in Free Motion, a biennial collaboration between poets and quilters. He lives in Beech Grove.

Poetry Prompt: Celebrating the Connections
Write a poem about something in Indiana that connects you to the larger world. It might be an imported flower or tree or migrating bird. Maybe it’s a cultural festival or a particular restaurant, grocery store or gallery exhibit. What enrichment do you find from this connection? 

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.

Posted In: Poetry

One response to “Indigenous”

  1. Tracy Mishkin says:

    Good poem. Good pick.

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