Shikata ga nai This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 12, 2010
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She stood at the edge of the cliff
In her yellow duck footsies pajamas
Wishing she could fly
She was tired of living
In a horse stall,
Of the stench of misery mixed
With stale porridge,
Of having nothing to hope for

She wanted to go home
Loneliness tugged at her heart
Like the teeth of a tiger.
She missed her family
Her mom’s hot soba,
The calm resonance of her father’s voice,
Even older brother’s mischievous tricks.

Shikata ga nai*
It cannot be helped
That is what her parents said
when they last saw her—

“Amaya! Mama says come help us cook kayu,” Momo grinned,
wiggling her eyebrows until Amaya laughed.
“Porridge again, huh?” Amaya groaned, linking
Arms with Momo as they walked
Back to the horse stall
That was kitchen, bedroom, and home.

When Amaya and Momo
Sauntered into the stall,
Mother Ito was bending over
The steaming pot of porridge,
Muttering to herself.
“Ran out of salt again,” she grumbled.
Amaya and Momo groaned,
Then helped ladle the porridge
Into red lacquered bowls.
They sat down on the floor for dinner
And started eating quietly
In the silence, there was only the sound
of spoon against bowl,
and the feel of hot soup in cold stomachs

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