MATTHEWE PAIGE

Life Cycle of the Maple Leaf

POETRY
Figure 9066-1

A leaf that sprouted
from one of the
115,000 maple trees
crumples into itself
raised one arm and leg
with the other leg stretched behind
from the brother who
woke and trapped me in bedroom corner
for hours beating by blue-silver
Ichiro brand baseball bat
to smash and break down
A mother who clawed open
his neurological development,
ADHD, a societal disparity,
a mother who picked
away fat to stretch paper thin
flat over starched moth-eaten cloth
to slap away moistened eyes
for “boys do not cry.”

Figure 9066-2

Snapping bowed spines straight
turning not-passing tar-lunged sister,
to the streets, destroying red Tonka trucks
As “girls play with dolls.”
Distraught passing sister
fed hard earned lessons
from mother to daughter
of proper womanhood,
MAC concealer to white the brown
cherry blossom dresses, never jeans,
oriental names that can
still roll off the western tongue
forcefully feed the eyes of white
and empty pretty little head
so she could be all they desired:
Exotic, sexy, at least wanted,
Better than the owner’s locked away
malnourished yellow dogs

Figure 9066-3

The fragile fish’s mid-ribs
that pop when snapped
the lids of Glad Tupperware
holding leftovers for a platoon
that pull the roots
from where they grew
serving only two. Colored
Folger’s brewed classic grounds
over sweetened with
Nestlé’s French-vanilla Coffee-Mate cream
The scent of a light-burnt butter
sautéing the red potatoes
Mother’s veins that bulged
over-caffeinated,
over worked,
under slept.
fighting for the music past
the bottom of father’s bottle
beating back-handed with care
a strict standard of preparing
for a “no Japs allowed” world
a lesson from the wind
that broke the axil from the branch

Figure 9066-4

Executive Order 9066
Winter approaches,
and harsh bitter cold
forces trees to comprise of
its basic parts
stem, trunk, branches and bark,
casting aside the othered elements
the maple leaves to fall
Behind the veins of barbed wire
A mother’s father’s mother denied insulin
to stem the sweats, skin rashes, and trembling
bitter cold seizures in the desert,
but even then,
no penicillin for relief
“penicillin is reserved for soldiers.”
A mother’s father’s father forced into isolation
only because he fished for crabs,
as all fishermen were presumed spies,
in which after four years, freedom gained,
to only spill his own red maple leaves
on an unmarked wife’s grave.

Figure 9066-5

Spring comes around the corner,
Flowers bloom, rejoice
that the war is over,
leaving each leaf 25 dollars,
to only return to nothing more
Leaving three sons who decomposed
chlorophyll reserves
dulling once proud mossy jade
to fury red, at the bottle’s bottom,
gambling away meager livings,
causing brother’s splitting
continents apart, alone,
beaten down again and again
by rain, wind, and the barren crisp cold
faded into tasteless aged parchment
desperately trying to hold together
left to be reused
to fuel for the trees that
feast on its remains.