From a distance, at night, they seem to be
industries — all lit up but not on the map;
or, in this scientific age, they could be
installations for launching rocket ships —
so solid, and with such security, are they . . .
Ah, but up close, by the light of day,
we see, not “pads” but actual paddies —
for these are simply silos in ricefields,
structures to hold the harvested grain.
Still, they’re the tallest things around,
and, by night or day, you’d have to say
they’re ample for what they do: storage.
And, if you amble around from your car,
you can lean up against one in the sun,
feeling warmth on your cheek as you spread
out your arms, holding on to the whole world
around you, to the shores of other lands
where the laborers launched their lives
to arrive and plant and harvest this grain
of history — as you hold and look, look
up, up, up, and whisper: “Grandfather!”
— Lawson Fusao Inada
American poet Lawson Fusao Inada was born in 1938 in Fresno, California. He was four years old when he was incarcerated with his family by the U.S government. Together with more than 5,000 other Japanese-Americans from Fresno, the Inada family was imprisoned at the county fairgrounds before being forcibly relocated to concentration camps.