Western Washington University’s Children’s Literature Conference | Bellingham, WA


How I knew bodies,
their newness, their slow decay.
I knew trust and hope,
eyes entreating me—please, please,
repair what I am.

I knew luxuries
as did my smiling family—
silk’s music, art, wine,
strolls in our scented garden,
our koi, captive—were we, free?

Then the rumors, fears.
Our faces in the mirror—
we, Japanese: suspects.
The knock, and I was removed,
yanked from familiar faces.

Wind banged desert shacks.
Strangers, we were bathed in sand.
Erased. We vanished.
I watched my fellow men pace.
Doctors always have patients.

Our eyes, pools of grief.
Cooks, bakers—hands with no work.
One knife, on the counter.
Outside, leaning into the wind,
howling, feeling discarded.

One day, a chuckle.
What a muscle, the human heart.
Our dry, calloused hands
began to carve found wood scraps.
Bent fingers held rough beauty.

An old man, I’m back
to this city and river.
Such tears, nightmares, sighs,
and the wood butterflies. I
watch fragile wings swirl, rise, fly.

“Fumio” is a poem from Pat Mora’s last book of poetry for adults, Encantado: Desert Monologues (Camino del Sol), University of Arizona Press, 2018.

© Pat Mora
University of Arizona Press
Knopf Books for Young Readers

2 thoughts on “Pat Mora”

  1. Pat, thank you for this piece. I was fortunate to be in the breakout session with you and your lovely spirit this morning. I appreciated hearing your background to this piece and thank you for contributing.


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