An excerpt from Color of the Sea
a novel by John Hamamura
TORII

Keiko remembers the May morning, one month shy of a year ago, when Sam left Lodi for Japan . . . his goodbye kiss fading from her lips, but his gaze steadily holding hers, his right palm pale as the moon in the train window.

She remembers how she held the baby and waved until the caboose passed in front of her like the edge of a steel curtain opening to reveal a mirror of her soul: the vacant rail yard with scattered bits of trash, parched sickly weeds, and rows of tracks gleaming on beds of grimy stones.

Then -- as she and her parents and friends, Dewey, Haru, Mitsy, and a dozen other well-wishers left the station and walked across the tracks and rounded the fruit packing sheds and were just entering the main street of Japantown -- they heard crows cawing above them.

Papa stopped, squinted up at four big birds perched on four thin power lines, black on black, against a bright ash- white overcast. Papa sighed, and they resumed walking in silence. Four: the Japanese word for death. Black and white: the colors of a Japanese funeral.

One of their group would die soon.

Keiko hugged the baby and raised her hand to shield his face from the crows’ eyes and beaks, but the crows flew
cawing after the train.

_____________

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