Garrett Hongo

To a Soldier in Ukraine
March 24, 2022 Hongo Garrett


A soldier must know three things—
Words from the past, joy in their remembrance,
And the sound of their own voice saying them.
A soldier must love three things—
The land they spring from as a tree does its earth,
The woman who cries over their cradle, over their death,
And the whirling mystery they join at the edge of life.
A soldier must say three things—
Declare what they love, whom they come from,
And where the wind will take their words.
Love is written on their body,
Wind will take their ashes,
Words will remember they lived.

Garrett Hongo’s collections of poetry include Coral Road: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011); The River of Heaven (1988), which was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Yellow Light (1982). He is also the author of Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i (1995), and he has edited Songs My Mother Taught Me: Stories, Plays and Memoir by Wakako Yamauchi (1994) and The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America (1993).