Origin Stories – Annette Sisson

Origin Stories
Poem – “Under a White Moon”
Origin Story of “Under a White Moon”
    Under a White Moon
    by Annette Sisson

    A daughter, now eighty-two, spends 
    a decade grubbing in dirt, unburying

    the transplanted roots of her life. 

    She returns to this place, searches for roses—
    Granada War Relocation Center, 

    rocky, once covered with chain-link, 

    barbed wire, seven thousand
    Japanese-Americans fenced away 

    like nightshade. After Pearl Harbor, 

    her mother took a cutting from her lost 
    grandparents’ rosebush, stashed it 

    into a satcheru, under a slim volume 

    of Bashō, a hand mirror inlaid 
    with mother of pearl—tokens to fuel 

    dreams of pagodas, lotus blossoms imperial 

    as kabuki. At the camp the mother waited 
    for the moon’s white shine, planted 

    the shoot while the guards slept—wormed 

    her way out of the hammock to a patch 
    of land with thicker soil, dug the hole 

    with a borrowed spoon and pearl handle. 

    Now, eight decades later, the daughter 
    finds one pink bloom, a bud 

    on a small bramble, petals drawn 

    tight as a pill bug—she remembers 
    the dusty corners of the wire enclosure, 

    sees her mother’s hands grafting roses,

    hears her whisper to the stems’ nodes: 
    It’s the roots that save; push them deep.

Origin Stories – Under a White Moon

This poem was inspired by a story I heard on National Public Radio about an elderly woman revisiting the Japanese internment camp in Colorado where she had been imprisoned with her mother during World War II. This woman was trying to find a vestige of the roses her mother had planted there so many years ago. The story captured my attention because, until I was a young adult, I was unaware that Japanese-Americans had been interned in the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As a young professor in Nashville, TN (I grew up in Indiana), I was later surprised to learn that internment camps had existed not just out west, but also in Georgia. One of my colleagues, a native Georgian, told me about her parents taking in some of the Japanese-American families to work on their farm after their release from the camps. She had grown up knowing and befriending some of these people and had heard first-hand their stories about the American government’s treatment of them during the war. Because of the newscast and my colleague’s personal stories, I felt compelled to try to imagine and capture something of the woman’s experience in the news story.


Annette Sisson’s poems can be found in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Rust and Moth, The Citron Review, The Lascaux ReviewThird Wednesday, Glassworks, and othersHer book Small Fish in High Branches was published by Glass Lyre Press May 2022, and she has a chapbook (Finishing Line) published in 2019. Her poems have placed in many contests, including Frontier New Voices and The Fish Anthology, and several have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Book: Annette Sisson, Small Fish in High Branches, Glass Lyre Press (pub. May 2022): https://glass-lyre-press.myshopify.com/collections/full-length-collections-1/products/small-fish-in-high-branches

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annette.m.sisson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annettesis/

Website: http://www.annettesisson.com

Poetry | Annette Sisson Poetry
Annette Sisson. Sissons Literature has a lot of imagery and nature.www.annettesisson.com

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

April 15 – Martha Bordwell

April 16 – Anastasia Walker

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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