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poetry Classmates

California poet Jodi Hottel discovered her changing identity after her Japanese American family was shipped to an internment camp during World War II.



By Jodi Hottel

            - after the painting by Roger Shimomura, 2008

Mary's in her red and white

checkered dress with the bow

at the neckline. I'm in my

blue and green one with the ruffle.

We hold the red apples she's brought,

poised to take that first tart bite,

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eager smiles on our faces.

We're the same age— twelve,

even the same height— though

I might have half an inch on her,

been in the same class

every grade in school 'til

this year.

            Now I'm in a class

inside barbed wire while she's

outside. Now I notice the

differences between us.

She parts her blonde hair

on the side, mine runs down

the middle, hair dark as the tarpaper

on our barrack. Her eyes are blue

and round, mine suspicious slits.

I see it now as plainly

as the barbed wire

between us.

Jodi Hottel’s most recent chapbook is Out of the Ashes from Pandemonium Press. Her

previous chapbooks are Voyeur from WordTech Press in 2017 and Heart Mountain,

winner of the 2012 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize. Jodi’s been published in Nimrod

International, Spillway, Ekphrasis, and anthologies from the University of Iowa Press,

Tebot Bach, and the Marin Poetry Center.