Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Float, Float On
The first two visits, I don't even look at you.
You've put out for a hell of a spread,
But I don't fill your pipe, and I don't touch
My cup. The house feasts on my refusals.
For these few days, the power of
My denial keeps this world afloat.
The house has done its diligence.
The spies report: a small income,
A small house; men respect you;
Good connections on the black market.
Your sword is legendary,
My maids giggle, even with all I've seen.
On the third visit, I can drink,
I can smoke, I can listen to your songs.
Two old warriors, we can't keep our hearts
Still at the smell of a challenge. My hands
Plunge beneath your robe, and I can drown.
So if you wanted the best of the Yoshiwara, you had to put some effort in. You had to fill out an application and go to two interviews and pay for a lot of treats, musicians, the whole shebang. The woman you were after wasn't permitted to eat or drink, but would just sigh and look devastatingly disappointed, I imagine. Sometimes she'd even say no on the third visit. But sometimes she'd say yes, and you'd become a regular. You still had to keep up the love letters and poetry and treats and cash flowing, and sometimes you'd have to fight off other regulars. You couldn't rest on your, um, laurels.
This is the first post for National Poetry Month. Last year, my theme was the Albigensian Crusades. This year, it's the Floating World, the Yoshiwara district in Edo, post-1750. I'm using this theme and combining it with the prompts from the Pad 2015 Challenge at the Writer's Digest Poetic Asides Blog. You can visit there or the NaPoWriMo site to find out more and do it too. Or throw them some cash, never hurts.
Image: Ripped off from someone's Pinterest, a vintage 1970s subway poster of Agemaki, the courtesan from from the Kabuki Sukeroku. "Don't forget your umbrella."