Cindy Rinne on Poets Cafe

The following interview of Cindy Rinne by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission).



Biographical Information—Cindy Rinne

Nikia Chaney (Cholla Needles Press), Moon of Many Petals (Cholla Needles Press), Listen to the Codex (Yak Press), Breathe In Daisy, Breathe Out Stones (FutureCycle Press), Quiet Lantern (Turning Point), spider with wings (Jamii Publishing), and she co-authored Speaking Through Sediment with Michael Cooper (ELJ Publications). Cindy is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community and a finalist for the 2016 Hillary Gravendyk Prize poetry book competition. Her poems appeared or are forthcoming in: Birds Piled Loosely, CircleShow, Home Planet News, Outlook Springs, The Wild Word (Berlin), Storyscape Journal, Cholla Needles, and others.


Enemy Alien Control Program

WASHINGTON, March 7.—Rep. Carl Hinshaw (R., Cal.) told the House today the Administration must act speedily to evacuate all enemy aliens from the West Coast in preparation for “a major attack” by the Japanese on Hawaii with sabotage on the Pacific Coast. (The San Francisco News, March 7, 1942)

They found dying orchards at the Owens Valley Reception Center, a registration, and an assigned home. Ancient mountains surrounded flimsy buildings of wood frame boards and tar paper in this enforced Exodus. A barbed wire zone. Mio already missed the sounds of the ocean’s rhythm. Not allowed to speak Japanese or to leave the 5,000 acres. I was restless from Mother’s stress. She sang Song of the Cradle in whispers.

“Word has come to us the Japanese timetable will bring the second phase of their plans into action about April 15,” Rep. Hinshaw said. “This includes a major attack on Hawaii, and the commencement of sabotage action on the West Coast, in preparation for events to follow.

They found a first meal of Mulligan stew, rice and beans with bread. What was this strange taste? Mother felt sick to her stomach. She could not find a doctor. I was distressed with this new diet. Food came from cans until cooks were assigned. Mother stood in line for an hour for each meal and then in line for a shower.

Takumi brought blankets, linens, towels, toilet articles, soap, combs, knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls, and cups. He was given an Army bed, one blanket, and one straw tick. Father winced as Mother hung laundry on a rope.

“If our administrative officials do not get down to quick action to evacuate all Japanese and all other enemy aliens immediately — They may, by inaction, have committed so great a sin that even history may never forgive them.”

They found a “Limit War Relocation Area” sign as the center became The Manzanar Relocation Center. Father was always aware of the 500 military police that stood guard. Mother worked in the Garment Factory. She liked the rhythm of the Universal sewing machine as she altered WWI clothing to fit. Father used his skills in the Sign Shop. They earned a little money.

A curtain hung was their room divider. I would imagine touching the wood dresser with a round mirror, the scent of cut roses from Rose Park, and a row of books. One photograph on the dresser reminded my parents of when they met by the sea. The snap as Mother placed the plaid tablecloth on the small, round table. I would listen to the sound of the round-faced clock. Mother tried to keep down the dust by watering around the barracks.

I would feel my mother’s fear when Father snuck out of the confinement of camp by crawling under the barbed wire. He avoided the searchlights in order to fish in a quiet stream. For a few moments he did not feel like an enemy.

Previously published in Moon of Many Petals.