By Grace Yu
“sayonara, hello” is a cross-genre piece that explores the discrimination and isolation immigrants face. It is told from the perspective of a young Japanese girl who searches for acceptance from the people around her.
in my dreams i am in japan. there is a small village in the corner of somewhere, maybe nowhere. we are in fields and fields and the flowers are blooming. we are here. we are all here. chiyoko and ena and hibiki are here, with their wispy cloud hair, and shiori, with her little dog. he has a little blue collar and he chases us as we run. aoi and kinata are twins with matching ebony eyes and dark charcoal lashes. they stand here too. kaito has a limp and pretty legs. pretty but crooked. in my dreams he tries to run and falls down. he looks down at his pretty white legs and looks sad, for his legs are thin like reeds and he cannot properly stand. i am sorry for him, but when i wake up it is all gone. i wake up and it is cold and windy. the fields are replaced by softly falling snow. my dreams are of japan and they fade away into my pillow.
canada is a barren land. the people here are tall with sharp faces and light hair. when they speak their lips are sharp, the words harsh. spindly spider fingers, pale arms with peachy prickly hairs, sharp. they are the beautiful ones in this strange foreign land. they let out harsh cries when they see me and touch my dark dark hair. in this land, i am all alone. my almond eyes and my golden skin. i am a yellow rose in the middle of a blizzard.
she said, promise me you won’t leave me. yakusoku, i promise. this girl has promised me. she will never go. i tell her in return. i will always stay here, yakusoku, and i never see her. i am gone in the night and i don’t say bye to her.
there were houses, i know. dirt houses and small pots over a stove. the rice was so warm. the grains settling in my stomach and everything small and cozy. i don’t remember anymore. fields and fields drift into my mind. i don’t remember. someone is stumbling and falling down.
drifts of snow settle outside. everyone making snowballs and they are icy bullets in my hands. so round, make me shiver. when the people are throwing them i don’t know why. snowflakes are pretty. i hate it when they break all the little crystals and push them into a ball. it feels like a storm. everyone throws them and they hit me with icy bullets in my heart. i don’t think anything. i am trembling and on the ground. i am crushed rose in the middle of a blizzard.
hide. under my warm coat. i can see my breath here, the air sharp like icicles. i am huddling underneath the blankets. i thought i was warm once. i don’t remember anymore. i thought someone had a dog. everything small and cozy. were there fields anywhere? it is so cold. i stop dreaming and using my pillow.
ebony eyes and charcoal lashes. my hair is dark, skin yellow like summer. the only girl who talks to me has yellow hair like a spring flower. she nods her head like a daffodil in a warm breeze. bright gold dust curls fall to her shoulders. i finger my straight hair.
where was everyone? i think back then i wasn’t so alone. children in small villages. sit here in the middle of nowhere. i am trying to run somewhere i can’t remember.
tissues white like roses at a funeral. her hair is bright. i look up and she is watching me. where did she come from? i don’t know. she asks me why i’m not indoors. i am so far from home. i follow her. there is a little house and something over a small stove. slowly everything is warm. something cozy settling in my stomach and i thought it was like this in some other world. i don’t know if i can remember. flowers and flowers all blooming, a corner in a far-away field. pretty legs white like snow. promise me you will never leave me, promise me i’ll never go. she smiles like a different girl that i used to know. what did i say to her?
snowflakes are like fields of crystal flowers. we are running into the distance. golden hair ahead of me and mine wispy like a cloud. we are laughing. almond eyes bright and everything soft. i am starting to remember. i left in the night. couldn’t see in the dark. there is something shining in the distance. i am so warm. i am running to her, smiling at her. what did i say to her? i remember now.
arigato, thank you.
Grace Yu is a first year student at Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing music and making origami. She has been published in Taking Our Place in History: The Girls Write Now 2020 Anthology, as well as her high school’s art and literature magazines. In the Emerging Poets category for the 2022 ruth weiss Foundation Awards, Grace was selected as a finalist for her poem “Love Story," an homage to the stunning diversity of oceanic life.