Minidoka Relocation Site

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In a bleak forsaken place,

tumbleweeds gather

and derelict barracks

and bare cement foundations

bear witness that thousands

of Japanese Americans

slogged through the mud

and baked in the heat

of Hunt Camp.

 

Silence reigns, save the

chuck-chucking of irrigation sprinklers,

making it hard to imagine

cook pots clanking,

old women gossiping,

generators humming,

vehicle tires crunching,

children reciting the pledge of allegiance

in a place surrounded with barbwire

and guarded by reluctant G.I.’s.

 

13,000 people were forced

to leave homes and livelihoods

to live inside tarpaper buildings.

Whole families were crammed

into 20 by 20 foot rooms

in a then, never-silent place.

Through paper-thin walls

seeped sounds of whispered quarreling,

children calling out for parents,

a neighbor’s husband snoring,

mothers sobbing for their soldier sons.

 

Now, a riverhawk circles overhead,

searching the sagebrush for carrion.

Paint peels from reclaimed buildings,

and the sun beats down where

incarcerated Japanese,

citizens and immigrants,

choked during dust storms,

suffered relentless winter winds,

and designed oriental gardens,

sculpting beauty out of heartbreak.

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About Judy Grigg Hansen
I write poetry and nonfiction, and I am passionate about the people, places, and wildflowers of Idaho and the Northwest.

3 Responses to Minidoka Relocation Site

  1. Dick Grigg says:

    ;We could take no chances, the Japanese could not be trusted, so sad, but it had to be done. The Japanese were patient and understanding and for that they have been rewarded. Dick

  2. Thank you, Ann. We miss you!

  3. Ann Babbel says:

    Well, after I wiped my eyes, I smiled for the beautiful words and the beautiful person who wrote them.

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