“The Mayor of the Sister City Talks to the Chamber of Commerce”

“It was after the raid on Tokyo. We children were told to collect scraps of cloth. Anything we could find. We picked over the countryside; we stripped the scarecrows. I remember this remnant from my sister’s obi. Red silk suns bounced like balls. And these patches were quilted together by the women in the prefecture. The seams were waxed as if to make the stitches rainproof. Instead they held air, gasses, and the rags billowed out into balloons, the heavy heads of chrysanthemums. The balloons bobbed as the soldiers attached the bombs. And then they rose up to the high wind, so many, like planets, heading into the rising sun and America…”

I had stopped translating before he reached this point. I let his words fly away. It was a luncheon meeting. I looked down at the tables. The white napkins looked like mountain peaks of a range hung with clouds. We were high above them on the stage. I am yonsei, the fourth American generation. Four is an unlucky number in Japan. The old man, the mayor, was trying to say that the world was knit together with threads we could not see, that the wind was a bridge between people. It was a hot day. I told these beat businessmen about children long ago releasing the bright balloons, how they disappeared ages and ages ago. And all of them looked up as if to catch the first sight of the balloons returning to earth, a bright scrap of joy.

–originally appeared in Web del Sol

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Fiction New Fiction Interviews (all) Flash Talk
Sort by

“An Ark of Mimes”

Only those who were there during the storm have the understanding of what happened and why. —Tara A
2017-02-27 09:36:55
kcstewart

8

Interview with Daisy Hernandez

It turns out I have been waiting for A Cup of Water Under My Bed, the September 2014
2017-01-05 14:00:44
jmwade

8

“On a Bridge, At Night”

They stand on the bridge above the dark river.  They agree this is the spot from which she jumped.  One of them t
2016-11-27 11:29:24
charps

8

“The Abandoned Millworks”

When the abandoned millworks caught fire, distant sirens woke the town. The cutting and drying sheds, reduced to
2016-03-14 06:19:19
sfrech

8

A Conversation With Fernando Sorrentino

Pamelyn Casto, Interviewer; Celia Cordon-Tovar, Primary translator; Kent H. Dixon, Secondary t
2014-10-31 06:54:43
sorrentino

8

“Flash Fiction: Bounded in a Nutshell”

That effective fictional narratives have for ages arrived in assorted sizes –  including those small enough to wh
2014-09-01 09:00:33
rtsmith

8

“The October I Am Sixteen”

The October I am sixteen I tiptoe out of my mom’s small pink kitchen and meet a smiling, middle-aged man in a park, o
2019-03-04 10:22:55
plaudato

0

“Two Chambers”

I. The boys go out for groceries but come home with matching rifles. “Antiques,” Son
2019-03-01 09:59:18
suttonstrother

0

The Daily Comics: an Essay in Frames

 Monday i. When I see my son drawing,
2019-02-06 12:52:33
newberry

0

“Running for Avocados and Writing from Bears”

Chad Lutz Alice Walker Graduate Workshop October 17,
2019-02-03 11:01:30
chadlutz11386

0

Michael Martone

About Michael Martone

Michael Martone is currently a Professor at the University of Alabama where he has been teaching since 1996. He has been a faculty member of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College since 1988. He has taught at Iowa State University, Harvard University, and Syracuse University. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper's, Esquire, Story, Antaeus, North American Review, Benzene, Epoch, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Third Coast, Shenandoah, Bomb, and other magazines.