Breaking Tradition

by Janice Mirikitani (1978) For my daughter My daughter denies she is like me, her secretive eyes avoid mine. She reveals the hatreds of womanhood already veiled behind music and smoke and telephones. I want to tell her about the empty room of myself. This room we lock ourselves in where whispers live like fungus, giggles about small breasts and cellulite where we confine ourselves to jealousies, bedridden by menstruation. The waiting room where we feel our hands are useless, dead speechless clamps that need hospitals and forceps and kitchens and plugs and ironing boards to make them useful. I deny I am like my mother. I remember why: She kept her room neat with silence, defiance smothered in requirements to be otonashii; passion and loudness wrapped in an obi, her steps confined to ceremony, the weight of her sacrifice she carries like a foetus. Guilt passed on in our bones. I want to break tradition -- unlock this room where women dress in the dark Discover the lies my mother told me. The lies that we are small and powerless that our possibilities must be compressed to the size of pearls, displayed only as passive chokers, charms around our neck. Break Tradition. I want to tell my daughter of this room of myself filled with tears of shakuhachi, the light in my hands, poems about madness, the music of yellow guitars-sounds shaken from barbed wire and goodbyes and miracles of survival. This room of open window where daring ones escape My daughter denies she is like me her secretive eyes are walls of smoke and music and telephones, her pouting ruby lips, her skirts swaying to salsa, Madonna and the Stones,

To be obedient. I do not know the contents of her room.Bamboo flute/oral sex (vulgar translation) Factoid for Interpretation: Asian American poets such as Janice Mirikitani punctuate their poems with Old World word choices to portray the dilemma of living in two cultural worlds at once. that is “to be gentle.A kimono sash. docile of quiet. Mirikitani’s persona is suspended between generations. Reading for Meaning: Otonashii. How for Mirikitani does being otonashii result in her resignation to the idea that women’s lives are “small and powerless”? 3. multicultural heritage enriches the poet’s sense of identity. She is breaking tradition. Shakuhachi. Consider how she would “break tradition” with her mother’s traditional. Putting such words as salsa. Adopting the point of view of a second-generation Japanese American. Critical Thinking: 1. Obi.her thighs displayed in carnivals of color.” 2. She mirrors my aging. “requirements to be otonashii”. How does Mirikatani have difficulty accepting her daughter’s own form of breaking tradition? . otonashii and shakuhachi into her poem “Breaking Tradition” give Mirikitani’s readers a more immediate sense of how a diverse.