Joanna Want

Kokoro The child points to her headwhen her father whispers kokoro.Amazed, the father gestures to his heart:Kokoro is here.” The daughter speaksEnglish at school, Japanese at home.Father and daughter, suspendedin a moment of translation.There is no word for the mindthat rests inside the heartin English. There is no way—no time—to learn such a wordat school, racing against the clockto etch answers to multiplication tableson to paper with pale blue linesbefore the teacher’s bell rings, pencils down. Only time to steala quick look out the windowat the afternoon’s grey sky,to remember during another spelling testthat i before e except after c meansreceive is spelled r-e-c-e-i-v-e. While the girl is at school, the father sitsat his own desk translating Dogen:The mind is mountains, rivers,and the great earth;the sun, the moon, and stars.The world waits to be translated—by the heart’s unbroken beating, the riversalways moving to some greater bodyof water, the tongue always playingcatch up, searching as it doesfor a word to name the space between us. Joanna Lin Want lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and daughter. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, The Aurorean, Indiana Review, JAC and others.