June Kino Cullen
Red Streamer Yokohama, Japan, 1959 A gray April morning aboard a U.S. Navy ship. Mother and I spot her standing on the dock. I yell, Obachan, Grandma. Her obsidian eyes remain strong, tearless, vigilant. My small body keeps throwing thin streamers, landing nowhere. Then Grandmother’s determined hand catches the last strand. For an instant, we all smile. Aunts, uncles, cousins huddle to grasp the wavering thread. Mother’s moist hands clutch my fist. The vessel begins its move. We wave to touch. The line snaps. Our half hangs against the hull. Their side drops on dead seaweed. Faces fade into the mist. Eyes strain to hold us close. A distant foghorn bellows its solitary warning. Red stains my palms like rope burns.