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Zara Raab-llI

Ozu’s Women


(Woman of Tokyo, 1933)



In the opening frame, a kettle whispers.

Ryo’s cross-legged on a tatami,

calling to his help-mate, his sister.

How sweetly Chikako smiles, yet––falsely.

Days she works, a typist; nights she’s dancing

Or riding with foreign men in black cars.


That is how she pays their rent––she’s modern.

Translate this: she’ll have no wedding.

Ryo studies, loafs about, handsome, proud.

She brings his socks to him––this young man

whose traditions she has secretly

betrayed long before this poem began.


By the nth frame, Ryo learns the word.

“I’ll just show them,” he whispers.

Now her face drains to the color of tea

pooled on the table as he is leaving––

Wipe it off, he’d say, but there’s no need.

He plunges to his death, and her cup’s empty.