Influenced by a past project at THINK Global School, I decided to write a “Where I’m From” poem about Rikuzentakata, Japan.
I was honored to lead a documentary team of ninth and tenth grade students to the northern Tōhoku region to investigate the post-tsunami rebuilding efforts. On our final day I had the time to sit and collate the stories we had heard and experiences that were shared with us. I wrote this poem in the style of Steve Kluger’s Last Days of Summer to tell the very real story of the citizens of Rikuzentakata, their efforts in the three years since the tsunami, and the hope that they have for their future.A poem for Rikuzentakata
Today, I leave Rikuzentakata city,
It’s a place where a piece of flat brown earth represents loss and hope at the same time.
Where flatbeds and construction trucks outnumber passenger cars six to one.
Where despite hardship and difficulty, respect for the local government is unquestioned.
Where privacy is a dream that wakes up in a temporary housing unit
and the word temporary has lost its meaning.
It’s where the community I was trying so hard to get away from
became the community I will never leave.
It’s where farmers lost everything and anxiously await a chance to move to higher ground.
It’s where fishermen have regained their livelihood
and are actually happy that the tsunami cleaned up their ocean.
It’s where volunteers from around the world are received with open arms
and leave with tears in their eyes.
It’s where four students from THINK Global School
and their two teachers from the States
learned the depth of the term Natural Disaster.
It’s where a tree became a symbol and a symbol became hope.