Poems by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

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Canada Goose

by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

From Canary Winter 2010-11

Linda lives near the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay.

It's a good way to go—
on a grassy bank
with your head tucked under your wing,
the clouds overhead
like tangerine peels
adrift in a puddle of blue.
Dogs bark in the distance.
Cars whiz by.
The other geese shrug their heart-shaped shoulders,
pick at winter grass
on the opposite side of the park.

And the couple walking their dogs
ponder over your sleeping form—
your soft gray wings folded like hands,
two halves of a locket,
And the woman says softly,
"It's a good way to go,"
the "o" floating into the stunned morning
where it opens

(for the Fukushima Fifty)

by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

From Canary Spring 2011

     from Erin Orison

Man in white — HasMat/level A —
ghostlike, moving, breathing slowly —
in my horrified dream I hear your ragged
inhalation-exhalation through the
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
they say will keep you safe
from radiation: particles and gas.

These could choke you, stop your already
laborious progress through a plant that men made
to fuel a lust for power.

You are anonymous, face encapsulated
by the hood, voice rattled
by the Supplied Air Respirator, pushed
into the Voice-Operated Channel — your
umbilicus to Clean-Up Operations.

You are my zombie hero, dead man walking,
while the Big Brains meet and find new ways
to slice and dice the acceptable margin
for terror.

If I could shower you in flowers, make whole
the body that you sacrifice, through some
bright communal magic, I would do it.
But you are that magic; you are the white-bright
light of courage that dares to contend with
the murderous pissing poison, the greed, the desire,
and patiently
clean it up.


by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

From Canary Fall 2016

It was early Spring in your uncle's cherry orchard,
blossoms -- pink.
The last time you were there, you
wore high-heels
for the first time --
just sixteen.

This time you were running.
The raw cold, drawn in
with every breath,
a knife blade driving
deep into your chest.
Nose bleeding from the effort,
you tasted salt.

And all around you, the cherry orchard
was ablaze,
a maze of black-trunked trees
like torches dipped in rags and oil
and lit.

American bombers whined overhead,
fat insects swarming.
Your arms, like skinny leather wings,
cranked at your sides.
You ran, earth-tethered, knees shaking.

And you saw the man beside you running, headless,
30 yards before
he fell as you
were running
on and on
toward an invisible finish line.

And the branches of the cherry trees were lit
with flames,
the sparks—petals of fire, carried
on the wind.

Snow Pines

by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

From Canary Fall 2016

The lodge pole pines
look Japanese,
their green needles,
stiff with snow,
suggesting the beards
of oriental hermits.
On the third floor of the chalet
they are still crowding the windows.
I cannot think of their heads
except in conjunction with stars.

Snow makes its point incessantly,
goes on talking to itself.
The trees shudder,
clearing a space
for their shoulders.
Soon not even this gesture
is possible.
Things move grudgingly.
White, like a great wall,

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