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"God Bless America"
by Jodi Hottel

At seventy-eight,
bound to a wheelchair
by stroke and dementia,
my mother weeps
while she listens to the anthem
play on the nightly news,
cherishing this country
of her birth, but no longer
able to repress
the shame of internment –
her only crime
a Japanese face.

At sixteen,
wearing a smile
and saddle shoes,
she left behind
her best friend Mary
and her new pump organ
to live in the barren
Wyoming desert behind
barbed wire.

And now,
my heart has a hole
where her pain is planted,
watered by the tears salting
her lips as she mouths the words,
"my home, sweet home."


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