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The Dream of a Lacquer Box

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I wish I knew the contents and I wish the contents
Japanese —

like hairpins made of tortoiseshell or bone
though my braid was lopped off long ago,

like an overpowering pine incense
or a talisman from a Kyoto shrine,

like a Hello Kitty diary-lock-and-key,
Hello Kitty stickers or candies,

a netsuke in the shape of an octopus,
ticket stubs from the Bunraku —

or am I wishing for Mother? searching for Sister?
just hoping to give something Japanese to my daughters?

then again, people can read anything into dreams

and I do as well. I wish I possessed
my mother’s black lacquer box

though in my dream it was red,
though I wish my heart were content.

Source: Poetry (May 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Dream of a Lacquer Box

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