Ode To A Woodcut By Utamaro by Elliot Richman

I gaze at a woodcut of a geisha by Utamaro,
every line where it could only be,
forming unraveled kimono, still warm forearm,
Japanese dark hair with wooden barrette,
a green tea kettle in the background.
foreground, a man with a mirror
teasing a calico cat into an arch of terror
as it sees its reflection in polished steel.
No god ascends to heaven. No general conquers.
The woman isnít particularly pretty.
The man, my age.
Obviously, taken his pleasure,
he lacks for nothing. The woman, too, appears
content, the price agreed upon and paid.
What could be more trivial, in fact, than
a courtesan, a customer, a mirror, a kettle, a cat?
Every line, though, will be here forever. Nothing changing.
Except when the man at the bottom turns his mirror towards me,
my face appears in polished steel instead of his.




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Elliot Richman