Tagged by Hillary Stangel

I cannot remember the first time I saw the
fine print of his Japanese name
forced into the blood steel dogtag of the army,
but my heart still swells and wavers
at the sight of the etchings
the hardened, weathered, imprinted letters
of my grandfather’s name.
It is a dogtag marking and identifying
that when Japanese bodies fell,
they would fall among other Americans.
It was a mark of honor, burnished through loyalty
to a country that accused, dis-empowered, and stole
unless you were a Yes-Yes boy.
Yes, I am willing to serve.
Yes, I am willing to serve undeniably.
The only freedom one had was
the freedom that they were forced to sign away.

These tags lay upon his tempered and powerful chest
and I close my eyes, never forgetting to remember the forgotten.

I likewise graze my own silhouetted and delicate bones with my young hands.
These tags lay upon his very breathing lungs,
a network of delicate capillaries,
feathering upwards and outwards
like the outreached fingertips of a stretching tree.


Hillary is a graduating senior from the Communication Studies department. In her spare time, she attempts the outdoors.

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