Outside from the Inside

by Anne Whitehouse

From Isamu Noguchi to Man Ray, Poston War Relocation Center, May 30, 1942

Here, in the internment camp
in the Arizona desert
our preoccupations have shrunk
to a minimum—
the intense dry heat,
afternoon dust storms,
and the difficulty of feeding ourselves
on thirty-five cents a day.
Outside from the inside
it seems history has taken flight
and passes forever.

Here time has stopped and nothing
is of any consequence,
nothing of any value,
neither our time nor our skill.
But I must remind myself,
work is the conversation
I have with myself,
and space is supplied
by the imagination.

Here, there is the memory
of ancient places,
wind and sun, endlessness,
where I came from,
and where I will go.

Oh, for a mountain peak,
a glacier glistening in the sun.
Oh, for an orange,
Oh, for the sea.