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January 2016 vol 11 no 4

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Joann Grisetti

Soto Dam


Not far from Sasebo lies a quiet valley, now partially flooded. During World War II, this peaceful valley held a prisoner-of-war camp. Uncertainty remains about the men who died here, their names, and numbers. There is no cemetery – all the bodies remain buried in the dam, Japanese as well as American. This camp had no escapees – there was no place to go, no place to hide on the Japanese island for an American.

frozen shore
wearing the turbidity
of winter winds

As I stand listening to birdsong, I try to visualize the scene from years before: a temporary camp of dirt and dust, constant with the noise of construction, shouts in a foreign language, lack of food and possibly clean water, disease. Snow and rain in their seasons harass the men having no change of clothes and little in the way of shelter. Always the push to work harder, work faster.

stagnant clouds
the stillness of air
without your breath


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