Sunday, January 29, 2006

Greetings from Kyoto

Maiko-san (apprentice geisha), Gion district, Kyoto, summer 1996, by Michael


Painted smile conceals
a heart brimming with sadness,
beneath the veneer a spirit
rarely allowed to shine through,
sick of this life
the rude customers
gawking tourists
staccato click of camera shutters
a routine set in stone,
had to leave school after ninth grade
to learn arts that stink of the old
here in the ancient capital,
hates the goddamned shamisen
makeup sometimes makes her break out
dreams of reinventing herself in Tokyo
time for her next appointment


11 comments:

LBseahag said...

This sort of reminds me of the song Tiny Dancer...Don't ask me why, I couldn't tell you.

LBseahag said...

It's beautiful and thought- provoking....

g said...

Omigoodness. I saw the image and instantly the eyes looked tired and as if they were holding so much pain. And I realized I know nothing of the life of the geisha.

Your words seem to confirm this sadness.

Does it have to be so harsh? Are others perhaps content? And is the current movie, Geisha, worth seeing?

Michael said...

Hi g,

Today was a rainy, dreary day here in New Joisey, and this certainly colored my mood -- and my writings. By no means are all geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) unhappy. I don't know that this one was, for that matter. She does have a tiredness in her eyes, I saw that, and I ran with it. I heartily recommend the book "Memoirs of a Geisha." I enjoyed it. I was told not to waste my time with the movie, which didn't even consult the book's author during filming. I'm told it shows.

Lone Wolf said...

I saw Memiors of a Geisha this evening. I have a better understanding of your very good poem then I would have if I had not seen the movie.

Michael said...

Thanks, Lone Wolf. A couple people told me the movie isn't very good. If you get a chance, though, check out the book. It's great!

g said...

I think this image is spectacular. You really caught the porcelin-like face. Ordinarily I don't like to see deep "make-up" on a woman's face, but this white quality, plus the red lips, clearly sets the "dramatic" "theatrical" tone for the woman's work. Great catch.

Michael said...

Hi g,

Thanks! I'm just glad she gave me permission to take her picture.

Justin said...

This is excellent Michael - the picture and the poem together.

Memoirs of a Geisha is a pretty good film, but not first class. How often is the movie as good as the book?

Michael said...

Thanks, Justin! Yes, movies often are a disappointment when compared with the books upon which they're based. Serves us right for having expectations.

Justin said...

Yes, but one thing to be said in favour of movies is they are much quicker than reading a big book! I must confess that I started the book, but didn't get around to finishing it - and watched the movie instead. Booo...hisss. I did the same thing with 'Musashi'.

I have a dozen books in my 'to read' right now.