Friday 26 February 2021

Autohaikography of Kyoko Mayeda Translated by Dan Brook


An Autohaikography of Kyoko Mayeda

Written during the Tokugawa (Edo) period in rural Japan

Translated by Dan Brook

For Kenneth Rexroth

    as a little girl
    I dreamt of going to school
    yet I could not go

    sometimes I feed birds
    but mostly I help mother
    cooking and cleaning

    I burn my fingers
    making father’s miso soup
    pain is no stranger

    father eats the fish
    mother, sister, I do not
    he desires flesh

    sister is so young
    she can’t yet know what’s coming
    yet it’s coming fast

    my mother tells me
    always do what we are told
    take care of father

    since being married
    I now take care of husband
    who takes care of me?

    I miss my village
    where I at least had my friends
    birds chirp at sunrise

    I’m working so hard
    always much labor to do
    life is too weary

    this work is my life
    these birds my only true friends
    I love them deeply

    I don’t love people
    they’re responsibilities
    my obligations

    when I see the birds
    envious of their freedom
    they just fly away

    husband demands sex
    it’s neither pleasure nor pain
    just empty feeling

    a swollen belly
    nauseous and tired all day
    still much work to do

    painful childbirth
    crying for my new daughter
    now happy
and sad

    her whole life ahead
    will she be me or a bird?
    life in my village


Dan Brook, PhD teaches in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University, from where he organizes the Hands on Thailand program.

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