OBON ODORI, Jodi Hottel

Obon Odori
by Jodi Hottel

Sandals dart from beneath
the pink kimono in front of me,
as I follow the line of dancers circling
the parking lot lined with SUVs.

Tiny girls robed in flowered silk,
young man in a hook-nosed mask,
sensei with her old-world smile,
we all step, turn, clap, dip,
to the familiar, high-pitched songs
crackling from the loudspeaker.

As the night fog covers us,
hanging lanterns light orange
and red, plastic cups of sake
warm us, fiber optic fans
pulse purple and electric blue,
waving in the dancers’ hands.

Like a child, I am embraced
by our community, linked
by step, forward, back, turn,
the flutter of fans,
ancestors blessing
our adaptation of tradition.

Jodi Hottel’s work has been published in Nimrod International, Spillway, Ekphrasis, Naugatuck Review, Touch, and anthologies from the University of Iowa Press, Tebot Bach, and the Marin Poetry Center. Heart Mountain, her chapbook of poems about the Japanese American internment, was winner of the 2012 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize.