Before I learned geography in school, Hokkaido
was simply my family’s favorite brand of canned
mackerel, opened especially in typhoon weather.
No matter that sheets of cold rain fell and fell,
and indoors we suspected we’d started to smell
a little biblical— And the power went out,
but we had candles, and a can opener!
We could still boil rice in a blackened
pot on the one-burner kerosene stove. Little blue-
fin mackerel, jumping (from which fishing port
off the coast of Hokkaido?) into the net, into
the can and into our steaming bowls awash in black
pepper, white vinegar, and thinly sliced shallots,
you were among the first briny tastes of other
coastlines that entered my mouth. And even now,
whenever rain pelts at the windows and the skies
turn the color of dull aluminum, when the winds
make the trees’ arms rise like wings of cranes
in the marshlands, I think of this word, Hokkaido.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.