Haruka’s Sestina

Jason Lee Brown

When Haruka’s grandfather dies she sets
off for Japan, her first time home in two
years. I stay in Sullivan. It is fall
in Illinois and I am eating jam
from the Amish store. She purchased three pounds
to take back with her. It’s on my nightstand

when I return home from O’Hare. I can’t stand
that I do not have a passport. I set
Haruka’s picture next to the three pounds
of jarred sweets and wish I could have flown to
Japan with her, high above the ground, jammed
in seats, calming her nightmares of free fall.

Haruka’s hair is black and long and falls
out everywhere — the tub, the nightstand,
her headphones while she listens to Pearl Jam,
our favorite band. Once, I dreamed she set
three strands purposely on my pillow to
mark her territory. My headache pounds

when I think she might stay in Naha, pounds
because she said, Japan’s gorgeous in fall,
pounds because I don’t have a passport to
leave the States, fly in an airplane, and stand
foot in her country, by her side, eyes set
on something other than cornfields and jam.

I consume the raspberry jar first, jam
two fingers into the strawberry, pound
the grape, the peach, and the apple. I set
empty jar on top empty jar, then fall
asleep and dream I’m doing a handstand,
wrists bound with Haruka’s hair. I’m too

weak in the shoulders and collapse into
a giant bowl thick with blueberry jam,
swim to the nearest edge, crawl out and stand
next to the sticky jars, alone. I pound
the nightstand with my fist until jars fall
and pop like light bulbs sliding off in sets

of two. I awake, stare at the three pounds
of missing jam. Should I let our love fall
without a stand? My stomach moans, upset.

“Haruka’s Sestina” was previously published in Gulf Stream No. 21, 2004

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