Is a noun. Yuri Kochiyama.
Is a doctrine. I first saw her speak when I was a student,
Is a firecracker. and thought -- Wow, this isn’t anything
Is a grandfather. like the grandmothers I know.
Then, I would bump into Yuri time and again on the streets in the protest marches against the war or at community events, in wheelchair yet not bound or limited, eyes always afresh and eager to connect with everyone around her. Is a phallic bullet, says the decolonial conversation. She leans forward eagerly in response to the other woman's question. You can use masculinist structures with feminist results. She asked me my name and wrote it down in her tiny notebook, repeating it to make sure she had it right. Is a bridge that has been lit on fire. The other woman says, yes, but I'm talking about Barbara Smith. I'm talking about a non-hierarchical sense of power. She was fierce when it came to naming the things that we really needed to be organizing around and against, from police brutality and the prison industrial complex to racism to the war. Is a boat which has sunk. Yet she was kind and gentle to the individuals who crowded around her, always remembered me even if I hadn't seen her in months. During the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, I bought the last T-shirt of a watchtower at Tule Lake, menacing even surrounded in yellow sun. I willingly gave it up so that she could have it. Later in the week, I got a package from her in the mail. A letter of thanks and another shirt, as promised.
Is a mister sister. I always begin with a girl, even if I end somewhere else.