April 16: Takumi’s Mother

by allisonkujiraoka

Takumi’s mother was present at all school functions.

Dependable that way, and approachable.

Unassuming, she’d arrive

before pick-up time

after her shift, hair down,

swinging her keys in a fidgeting way.

In cuffed jeans and a sweatshirt,

she was refreshing.

She talked to me, confided even:

Takumi won’t eat breakfast

–I place a rice ball in his palm

as he walks out the door…

His brother only wants

to sit quietly–they’re so different…

We’re thinking of moving–

maybe building closer to town.

Takumi’s mother always showed up

until she didn’t.

It was an unaccountable absence;

no clue had foretold it.

His grandmother accompanied him

six or seven consecutive weeks

to sports club until

it was apparent:

a shift had occurred,

and nobody was talking.

Months passed, and then one day

she was there, peering shyly

through the trellis in the schoolyard.

She called to her son;

it was an awkward communication.

Her admonitions to listen and be good,

his spiteful eyes the only reply.

I tried not to see, but I was there.

Social custom dictated

we acknowledge it.

A lot has happened.

I understand.

I hear you are giving him rides to baseball.

Happy to do it.

We are smiling and bowing and

wishing the moment to be over.

Thank you for being here when I could not.

She speaks this without words

because her hand is covering her mouth,

and her eyes are shining.

I hear it loud and clear.