A Geisha’s Shamisen

I wander into an Osaka café
hidden in an alley,
lanterns push autumn darkness aside.

I glance at the other tables where
Japanese women with cherry lipstick,
violet and pink eye shadow, designer blouses,
stroke tall glasses of crimson and plum drinks
and flash ivory smiles
at older men across from them.

I turn away, study artwork on a yellow landscape
of men with deep-green fedoras
of women with bright umbrellas
tilted to shelter
the rising sun
the sneaked kisses
from pale cheeks.

I haven’t yet seen a geisha or maiko.
Even in Kyoto, I travelled at dusk,
followed the rising sun as it vanished
down a narrow street to a geisha hangout,
a tea house where mist from boiling cups
slipped out sliding doors.
But no geisha.

In my curiosity,
I wonder if I am the same
as these old men in this café,
mesmerized by modern day geisha
who stroke drinks and egos
instead of shamisen strings. 

Sonia Saikaley