“Plunge” by Margaret Chula
The water felt neither warm nor cold as I sank into the sea
after hitting my forehead against a borrowed surfboard.
The blaze of sunlight on water brought me back
to the surface—pulled out of the rip tide by strangers.
During World War II, it was the job of school girls
from Chiran to take care of kamikaze pilots—
washing their laundry, sewing on buttons,
and saying good-bye as the young men
tied on headbands blazoned with the rising sun,
climbed into their small aircrafts, and dipped
the plane’s wings three times in farewell. Some gave
the girls their wallets or photographs of their family
before they headed out on their suicide mission: dive
bombing planes, loaded with explosives, into enemy warships.
Only the girls from Chiran knew the “divine wind” pilots
had wept into their pillows.
When I was twenty, I nearly drowned.
I have not told anyone about that bliss.
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Margaret Chula Artist Statement:
Margaret Chula is a poet, teacher, and performance artist. She has
published seven full-‐length collections of poetry including, most
recently, Just This. Daffodils at Twilight is forthcoming from Aldrich
Press. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Kyoto Journal,
Poet Lore, America’s Review, Cloudbank, Windfall, Sufi Journal, West
Marin Review, and VoiceCatcher as well as in haiku journals and
anthologies around the world. She has twice been nominated for a
Pushcart Prize. Margaret has been featured at writers’ conferences
and festivals throughout the United States, as well as in Poland,
Canada, and Japan. From 2010-‐2014, she served as Poet Laureate for
Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, Oregon and is currently
president emerita of the Tanka Society of America. Having lived and
taught in Kyoto for twelve years, she currently makes her home in
Portland, Oregon, where she hikes, gardens, and creates flower
arrangements for every room of her house.