Published on Academy of American Poets (

For a Daughter Who Leaves

"More than gems in my comb box shaped by the
God of the Sea, I prize you, my daughter. . ."
Lady Otomo, 8th century, Japan

A woman weaves 
her daughter's wedding 
slippers that will carry 
her steps into a new life. 
The mother weeps alone
into her jeweled sewing box	
slips red thread
around its spool, 
the same she used to stitch 
her daughter's first silk jacket 
embroidered with turtles 
that would bring luck, long life. 
She remembers all the steps 
taken by her daughter's 
unbound quick feet:
dancing on the stones 
of the yard among yellow
butterflies and white breasted sparrows. 
And she grew, legs strong 
body long, mind
Now she captures all eyes 
with her hair combed smooth 
and her hips gently 
swaying like bamboo. 
The woman
spins her thread 
from the spool of her heart, 
knotted to her daughter's 
wedding slippers.


Reprinted from Love Works by permission of City Lights Foundation. Copyright © 2002 by Janice Mirikitani. All rights reserved.


Janice Mirikitani

Janice Mirikitani was born on February 4, 1941 in Stockton, California. 

The author of five books, including Love Works (City Lights Press, 2003), Mirikitani served as the second Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2000, succeeding Lawrence Ferlinghetti. “For me,” Mirikitani said, “the role of poet is as a voice to connect with the community.”

A survivor of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, she founded San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church center for social justice with her husband, the Rev. Cecil Williams.

About Mirikitani’s work, Ken Chen noted, “She wrote a multicultural movement poetry that has been forgotten, too unaesthetic for formalists, too radical to be reduced to identity/confessionalism.”

She died on July 29, 2021 in San Francisco, CA.

Date Published: 2002-01-01

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