Komori


Komori

	The komoris' eyes fix the camera
                                                 from around
   and in the straining double bandoliers' hump
         the babies shaven heads strain
 
 
The body dares not face the camera
The frontal posture is not for the servant
 
      heads turned   bent regards meek and in stress
      hair hastily gathered in the dark
                           now straggly with their loads
 
 
   and in the eked-out smiles
                     the years of sleeplessly fading pallid faces
 
                                                                                the rough cotton kimono
   drab thick   resistant to   baby-faeces and crachat
 
 
And in their stilted sandals
                                     their meagre dignity in a stoop
 
    the bare adolescent feet still showing
 
 
Whose mothers are whose children?
  
 
 
 
Notes
 
"KOMORI is a generic term that consists of a noun, ko (a child), and a verb, moru (to protect or to take care of); Japanese use it to refer to any person, male or female, old or young, who takes care of children. (...) Like their European counterparts, nursemaids and nannies, komori began to appear in what Michel Foucault has called the "discourse of power" in the late nineteenth century..."
                  from Mariko Asano Tamanoi's "Songs as Weapons: The Culture and History of Komori (Nursemaids) in Modern Japan", in The Journal of Asian Studies, 50, no.4 (November 1991): 793-817.
 
 
 ©  T.Wignesan March 9, 1992
 
[from the collection : longhand notes: a binding of poems. Paris: 1999]

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