A Letter My Father Never Wrote Me, or If They Call You Yellow

Misako Yamazaki

there are things / I can only write to you / in the dark of the dead of winter / how your mouth is a music box / much like your father’s / your hands are typewriters / set into motion by your darkest moments / don’t let anyone tell you / not to write about race / your name means beautiful girl, beautiful voice / and sometimes you will be the siren / sometimes you will be the song / but most often you will be the scream / daughter, always remember / there are men who don’t listen to music / they are the ones who will try to set you back / but you are not a clock / for clocks cannot change by themselves / you are the one who must change them / I know you can get lost / in every book you read / but do not forget where you come from / the Pacific weeps for you / sakura fall for you / and some nights I swear I can see / your lighthouse smile / across this sea of space between us / I dream of living long enough / to see you succeed alongside / your American colleagues and classmates / a woman of color, of change / don’t you ever give yourself / an easy American name / when people ask you for it / you tell them that your name / was pulled from the teeth / of an immigrant father / spat out onto the streets / of downtown Phoenix in spring / tell them that / yes, really, you were born here / tell them there is beauty in color / but none in ignorance / do not settle with racist treatment like I did / and if they call you yellow / remind them / that sunlight is beautiful / but it can also blind

Phoenix born and raised, Misako Yamazaki, 25, is a connoisseur of all things literary and philosophical. She is majoring in Philosophy, Religion & Society with a minor in English at Arizona State University, Class of 2022. Her poetry has been featured in Honey & Lime Lit’s online literary blog, Oceans & Time, the anthology Satan Speaks! from Forty-Two Books, and ASU’s Canyon Voices. Also, a spoken word poet, Misako has performed at and hosted various poetry events around the Phoenix valley pre-pandemic. When not impaired by the chronic pain of endometriosis, she spends her free time reading, writing, and journaling.