Memoirs of a Geisha (afterwards)

When you looked at me

The teapot acquired a mind of its own, and

It pushed away my rigid fingers

Broke free from my trembling hand

That was yearning for the side of your face

And something to hold onto


All of a sudden I could hear nothing

Nothing at all, nothing

But shards of porcelain-screams

Smothering my heart in monstrous bites

Its blood, the blood of the teapot

As brown as the bark of a tree,

Trickled down my palm and

Carried away the little, frantic pulses as it passed over my wrist and

Splashed ruthlessly onto my kimono

A hot stain branded onto an unfortunate nightingale

Slashing its neck with its liquid, careless brush

I could do nothing as it reached

For the soft-pink cherry blossom trees

Making them wither


I could do nothing as it ruined

A perfectly stitched world

And took away its stillness with an alien colour that was both

Permanent and destructive

A colour that matched your attentive eyes

Noticing every single move that I made


I apologized for my clumsiness

Bowed away the heat that was burning my hand

My onesan, my older sister, my mentor, dramatized my silliness

By stressing that it was my first time entertaining a group of men

As an apprentice geisha.


“Why, Chairman, look what your charm can do to a girl!”


You only smiled, that generous smile that gave me hope

So many years ago, when I was just a little girl

As much hope as a thousand paper cranes could carry

Into the sky

I listened as I wiped away the spilled tea from the table with a cloth

Drying the mess on my hand

As a maid came in to do the rest


And I blinked, and snuck glances at you

I wondered if it was possible that

You figured out my sister’s protective lies

Flung out skilfully, jokingly into the air

Lies that were spread elegantly on the tatami floor

Half-shining with a golden hue that both sickened me and frightened me


I wondered if you knew that behind the painted paper fans

A geisha put on a smile like she put on makeup

Affections might as well be frustrations and disgust

And the kinds of persons we geisha allow you to see us be

Were as real as any illusion on a hot summer day


And I wondered that despite all this—

If it was possible for you to have the slightest suspicion

Just the tiniest bit of doubt that

Those words, spoken by my sister

In her act of mending the discourteous

And ridiculous gesture I conducted—


“Why, Chairman, look what your charm can do to a girl!” 


Had it ever occurred to you that

Those words, coming out from a mouth of a geisha

Could actually and accidentally been the truth?


This poem is closely based on the story of Memoirs of a Geisha, a book by Arthur Golden, which I just recently reread. I think it’s a beautiful story, and I was inspired to write this poem. It’s not exactly the same as the original story, but it’s very closely related, anyway.

Also, I read my poem (this poem :D) in public for the first time. It was a small, friendly crowd at West Minister, the Great Wall Tea Co. I was really nervous before I went there, but I loved the experience. I will be more active and start spreading my name! 🙂




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