• In Marble and Light

    Garrett Hongo

    Fall 2021

    Albert Kazuyoshi Hongo, I.M.

    I once saw somewhere, in a box of old financials, check stubs
    and paid bills, or leaned up against a dusty mirror, amidst vials

    of nail polish and mascara cluttered on my mother’s vanity
    table in their bedroom, an old 8x10 p hotograph of my father

    with two of his war buddies. It was a black and white studio shot
    touched up so their faces looked like smooth marble, but sepia-

    toned with a cast of weak coffee. They wore dress khakis,
    smoothly starched shirts with campaign ribbons across their chests

    and a stripe or two on their long, pressed sleeves. My father’s
    bore none, but his black hair rode up like a glassy wave slicking

    over one side of his head, hatless, unlike the others who wore caps.
    It must’ve been when we lived in Midtown L.A., in the apartment house

    with a Hawaiian name on North Kingsley Drive when I saw it.
    I was six or seven, and he told me he’d been a guard at Nuremberg,

    passing Lucky Strikes to S.S. officers imprisoned there
    who begged for them before they went on trial.

    Zigaretten, bitte, he’d say, his one phrase of German,
    and he grinned when he said it, as though it were the cheesiest

    joke of his life. He never told me one thing else about the war
    except that he’d brought a Luger and a Leica back from there

    that my mother made him sell. “She no like war souvenir,”
    he said, waving his hand in dismissal.

    Garrett Hongo is the author of three collections of poetry, three anthologies, and Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai‘i. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches at the University of Oregon, where he is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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