Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Takako Arai

Beds and Looms

My job was as an operator, to call people out
An inexperienced girl like me
Pick up the receiver, run to the factory floor
And among the noise of looms—clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Stand up straight and shout into the women’s ears
“Sat-chan, telephone!”

The call that day was for Yai-chan
    I dashed through the place
  Where we punch the cards for the looms
Through where we prepare the threads for the warp
There, where we spin the thread, I saw a pornographic picture on the calendar
Like in a public path, breasts exposed
In a factory where all but the two who fixed the looms were women
They would let the real thing spill over as well
If a baby cries, you’ve got to let them feed
The women working in the factory
Put their children on their back, carried them to the cribs
They were saving their money
The oil of the machines, the oil of their hair, the breast milk
Those were the scents of the factory
I hated it, didn’t want to breathe them in
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack

The call was for Yai-chan
She had a reputation for her weaving
To finish weaving a bright red robe for a priest
You need good hand, good eyes, a good mind, a good vagina
It won’t work if she doesn’t, if she’s not a woman among women
The woman manager would always say
        Those priests, never knowing a woman
      It’s not Buddhist recitations that let them reach Nirvana
    It’s our woman weavers
  It’s the robes against their skin that calm their desires
Yai-chan’s hand is the oar, rowing a small boat on the River of Three Hells
The gold-threaded brocade (four hundred thousand yen per meter)
Worn by the abbot of the high temple
Supported
The life of the factory
The twenty-two workers, their husband’s liquor
Their mother-in-law’s incense
Their savings for their sons’ trips at school

Yai-chan also had a child
With the delivery boy from the noodle shop
Who kept his wife in the country a secret
Their relationship broke off, like noodles cooked to mush
In the stewing stomach of her anger
She gave the baby to her older sister and her husband
So that’s why
Even though she was past thirty and her breasts were swollen full
Not a single drop came out, nipples bound up tight
That’s why the pornographic picture in the woman’s factory by the
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Was an overripe icon of Yai-chan, she who had no one to give her milk
The woman manager would say,
        “The worries that cause her to crease her brow
      Are what make her work late into the night
    Are what make her a woman among women
  We put our hands together in thanks”
Not a very considerate thing to say

My job was to call people out

Yai-chan was farthest back
If the caller got impatient and hung up
We would have to call back at our cost, factory accounts determined my speed
I ran, I ran
    I ran as fast as I could
In the place where we stored the thread, piled with spools
I noticed something, something flat
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, the machines were moving by themselves
She was not there
The Maria-Kannon of the Weaving Factory was not there
She was not standing there
She was asleep, she was in bed
  She’d hauled in a double bed! 
    Yai-chan had been doing it
      During the lunch breaks with Shō-yan who fixed the looms
The femurs before her sacred gate
Must have creeeeeeaked
      As they opened

            (Who can say a baby bed was acceptable
          But a double bed was not? 
        The factory worshipped her skill
      If in this woman among women
    We had a secret buddha
  Who could say
She should not open her shrine?

Her loom weaves the robes
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack
The phoenixes in pure gold thread
    Unfold line
    By line
Their combs fall forth like plumes, their claws sharpen
They dance up
In the patterns upon the back and sleeves of the priestly satin robes
The open eyes of the cloud dragon, long whiskers of the rising dragon, scales covering the mystic dragon
Dance down
To the birthplace of the thread
Where they intertwine
With the thread
To breathe in the sweat of the rustling sheets
From the double bed found there
The dragons, phoenixes, and lip-licking priests

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Double bed is a power loom, double bed as a power loom, double bed with a power loom
The woman manager
Foamed at the mouth in anger and
To this day still recites the Heart Sutra
Before the shrine of her ancestors

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Form itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is form
Sex itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is sex

    Call them out

    Be called out

    We women are called out

ベットと織機

ベットと織機

呼びだしが仕事だったんです、青りン坊のあたしの、
受話器おいて、工場サ駆けって
ジャンガンジャンガン、力織機(りきしょっき)が騒(ぞめ)くなか、
耳もとへ背伸びして
「サッちゃん! 電話!」

あれは、ヤイちゃんへでありました
  紋切り場をツッ切って
 整経場をカッ切って
糸繰り場には、カレンダーのポルノ写真が、目ェ流しておりました
機械なおしの二人のほかは、みィんな女の工場に
銭湯のよう、
丸出しおっぱいは
こぼれます、ホンモンも
泣きじゃくれば、飲まサァなんねェ
赤ンぼオブって、通っておったんです、女工さんらは、
ベビーベットさ持ち込んで、稼ェでおったんです
機械油と髪油と乳臭さが、工場のにおい
  吸いたかねェ、そんなモン
ベビーベットと力織機、ベビーベットに力織機、ベビーベットが力織機、
ジャンガンジャンガン、ジャンガンジャンガン

それは、ヤイちゃんへでありました
名うてさんでありました
真ッ赤な袈裟サ 織りとげるには、
腕がえぇ、眼(まなこ)がえぇ、頭(おつむ)がえぇ、あッこがえぇ、
女のなかの女じゃなけりゃア 駄目なんです
いッつも言うヨ、おかみさんは
    娘(おなご)知らずの坊さんバ
   成仏さすンは、念仏じゃねぇ
  機織りゾ、
肌サ衣に摩(す)ッつけるンが、慰さめゾ
ヤイの手は、冥土の川サ漕ぐ舟ヨ、大伽藍の僧正さまの
メーター四十万(しじゅうまん)の金襴が、
支えておったんです
工場の生活を、
二十二人の工員さんの、その夫の焼酎代の、その姑の線香代の、
その息子の修学旅行の積立ての、

ヤイちゃんにもありました
店屋物(テンヤモン)のバイクの男とありました
在に、奥さん隠してて、
煮えくり返ッた腹ン中、伸びちまう うどんのように
こと切れて、赤ンぼ くれてまいました
で、なんです
三十路サ過ぎても、張りかえったままなンは、
一滴もらさず絞め上げたンですから、
ベビーベットと力織機、ベビーベットに力織機、ベビーベットが力織機の、
女工場のポルノ写真は、
一人だけ飲ます先ないヤイちゃんの、熟れたイコンでありました
    眉間バ皺さす、
   心痛が、
  夜なべ仕事サ かッ立てるンゾ
女の女 こさえるンゾ
えぇか、ヤイに手ェ合わせぇ
って、
おかみさんは ひでぇネ

呼びだしでありました

一等奥におりました
せっかちが切ッてしまうと、
掛けなおサにゃアなりません、工場のソロバンがあたしの速度です
駆けって、駆けって、
       カッ蹴って、
ぎょうさん積まれた糸置き場に
平べったいモン、あるようでした
ジャンガンジャンガン動いてて、機械だけ
おらんのです、
機織り工場のマリア観音、おりません、立っとりません
寝ております、ベットです
 ダブルベットば 担ぎ込んだヨ!
  ヤイちゃんは、
   しておった! お昼休みを、機械なおしの正(ショー)やんと
ギギギギギィ――ッと
大腿骨の、
   観音扉が

        (ベビーはえぇが、ダブルはいかん、
       と言えますか
     腕サ拝む工場です
    女のなかの女、
   のなかに 秘仏さんがおンならば、
  開帳ならん、
と言えますか)

織り上がる、
ジャンガン、ジャンガン
本金の鳳凰どもが、
スダレのような鶏冠を響かせ、蹴爪を尖らせ
舞い上がる、
繻子の法衣の背模様に、袂模様に
剥きだし眼の雲龍が、髭たな引かす昇龍が、鱗ぬめらす妖龍が、
 糸と、
 糸の、
交わりつづける生産現場で
ダブルベットに
うごめくシーツの汗、吸ッつきに、
舞い下りる、
龍、鳳凰が、舌舐めずりする僧正さまが

ジャンガンジャンガン、ジャンガンジャンガン、
ダブルベットは力織機、ダブルベットで力織機、ダブルベットへ力織機、
おかみさんは
泡ふいて、
ご先祖さんの仏壇に 般若心経あげとりました

ジャンガンジャンガン、ジャンガンジャンガン、
色即是空(シキソクゼークー)、空即是色(クーソクゼーシキ)

 呼びだしに、

 呼びだされ、

 女たちが呼びだされ、





Close

Beds and Looms

My job was as an operator, to call people out
An inexperienced girl like me
Pick up the receiver, run to the factory floor
And among the noise of looms—clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Stand up straight and shout into the women’s ears
“Sat-chan, telephone!”

The call that day was for Yai-chan
    I dashed through the place
  Where we punch the cards for the looms
Through where we prepare the threads for the warp
There, where we spin the thread, I saw a pornographic picture on the calendar
Like in a public path, breasts exposed
In a factory where all but the two who fixed the looms were women
They would let the real thing spill over as well
If a baby cries, you’ve got to let them feed
The women working in the factory
Put their children on their back, carried them to the cribs
They were saving their money
The oil of the machines, the oil of their hair, the breast milk
Those were the scents of the factory
I hated it, didn’t want to breathe them in
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack

The call was for Yai-chan
She had a reputation for her weaving
To finish weaving a bright red robe for a priest
You need good hand, good eyes, a good mind, a good vagina
It won’t work if she doesn’t, if she’s not a woman among women
The woman manager would always say
        Those priests, never knowing a woman
      It’s not Buddhist recitations that let them reach Nirvana
    It’s our woman weavers
  It’s the robes against their skin that calm their desires
Yai-chan’s hand is the oar, rowing a small boat on the River of Three Hells
The gold-threaded brocade (four hundred thousand yen per meter)
Worn by the abbot of the high temple
Supported
The life of the factory
The twenty-two workers, their husband’s liquor
Their mother-in-law’s incense
Their savings for their sons’ trips at school

Yai-chan also had a child
With the delivery boy from the noodle shop
Who kept his wife in the country a secret
Their relationship broke off, like noodles cooked to mush
In the stewing stomach of her anger
She gave the baby to her older sister and her husband
So that’s why
Even though she was past thirty and her breasts were swollen full
Not a single drop came out, nipples bound up tight
That’s why the pornographic picture in the woman’s factory by the
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Was an overripe icon of Yai-chan, she who had no one to give her milk
The woman manager would say,
        “The worries that cause her to crease her brow
      Are what make her work late into the night
    Are what make her a woman among women
  We put our hands together in thanks”
Not a very considerate thing to say

My job was to call people out

Yai-chan was farthest back
If the caller got impatient and hung up
We would have to call back at our cost, factory accounts determined my speed
I ran, I ran
    I ran as fast as I could
In the place where we stored the thread, piled with spools
I noticed something, something flat
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, the machines were moving by themselves
She was not there
The Maria-Kannon of the Weaving Factory was not there
She was not standing there
She was asleep, she was in bed
  She’d hauled in a double bed! 
    Yai-chan had been doing it
      During the lunch breaks with Shō-yan who fixed the looms
The femurs before her sacred gate
Must have creeeeeeaked
      As they opened

            (Who can say a baby bed was acceptable
          But a double bed was not? 
        The factory worshipped her skill
      If in this woman among women
    We had a secret buddha
  Who could say
She should not open her shrine?

Her loom weaves the robes
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack
The phoenixes in pure gold thread
    Unfold line
    By line
Their combs fall forth like plumes, their claws sharpen
They dance up
In the patterns upon the back and sleeves of the priestly satin robes
The open eyes of the cloud dragon, long whiskers of the rising dragon, scales covering the mystic dragon
Dance down
To the birthplace of the thread
Where they intertwine
With the thread
To breathe in the sweat of the rustling sheets
From the double bed found there
The dragons, phoenixes, and lip-licking priests

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Double bed is a power loom, double bed as a power loom, double bed with a power loom
The woman manager
Foamed at the mouth in anger and
To this day still recites the Heart Sutra
Before the shrine of her ancestors

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Form itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is form
Sex itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is sex

    Call them out

    Be called out

    We women are called out

Beds and Looms

My job was as an operator, to call people out
An inexperienced girl like me
Pick up the receiver, run to the factory floor
And among the noise of looms—clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Stand up straight and shout into the women’s ears
“Sat-chan, telephone!”

The call that day was for Yai-chan
    I dashed through the place
  Where we punch the cards for the looms
Through where we prepare the threads for the warp
There, where we spin the thread, I saw a pornographic picture on the calendar
Like in a public path, breasts exposed
In a factory where all but the two who fixed the looms were women
They would let the real thing spill over as well
If a baby cries, you’ve got to let them feed
The women working in the factory
Put their children on their back, carried them to the cribs
They were saving their money
The oil of the machines, the oil of their hair, the breast milk
Those were the scents of the factory
I hated it, didn’t want to breathe them in
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack

The call was for Yai-chan
She had a reputation for her weaving
To finish weaving a bright red robe for a priest
You need good hand, good eyes, a good mind, a good vagina
It won’t work if she doesn’t, if she’s not a woman among women
The woman manager would always say
        Those priests, never knowing a woman
      It’s not Buddhist recitations that let them reach Nirvana
    It’s our woman weavers
  It’s the robes against their skin that calm their desires
Yai-chan’s hand is the oar, rowing a small boat on the River of Three Hells
The gold-threaded brocade (four hundred thousand yen per meter)
Worn by the abbot of the high temple
Supported
The life of the factory
The twenty-two workers, their husband’s liquor
Their mother-in-law’s incense
Their savings for their sons’ trips at school

Yai-chan also had a child
With the delivery boy from the noodle shop
Who kept his wife in the country a secret
Their relationship broke off, like noodles cooked to mush
In the stewing stomach of her anger
She gave the baby to her older sister and her husband
So that’s why
Even though she was past thirty and her breasts were swollen full
Not a single drop came out, nipples bound up tight
That’s why the pornographic picture in the woman’s factory by the
Baby beds and power looms, baby beds plus power looms, baby beds as power looms
Was an overripe icon of Yai-chan, she who had no one to give her milk
The woman manager would say,
        “The worries that cause her to crease her brow
      Are what make her work late into the night
    Are what make her a woman among women
  We put our hands together in thanks”
Not a very considerate thing to say

My job was to call people out

Yai-chan was farthest back
If the caller got impatient and hung up
We would have to call back at our cost, factory accounts determined my speed
I ran, I ran
    I ran as fast as I could
In the place where we stored the thread, piled with spools
I noticed something, something flat
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, the machines were moving by themselves
She was not there
The Maria-Kannon of the Weaving Factory was not there
She was not standing there
She was asleep, she was in bed
  She’d hauled in a double bed! 
    Yai-chan had been doing it
      During the lunch breaks with Shō-yan who fixed the looms
The femurs before her sacred gate
Must have creeeeeeaked
      As they opened

            (Who can say a baby bed was acceptable
          But a double bed was not? 
        The factory worshipped her skill
      If in this woman among women
    We had a secret buddha
  Who could say
She should not open her shrine?

Her loom weaves the robes
Clackity-clack, clackity-clack
The phoenixes in pure gold thread
    Unfold line
    By line
Their combs fall forth like plumes, their claws sharpen
They dance up
In the patterns upon the back and sleeves of the priestly satin robes
The open eyes of the cloud dragon, long whiskers of the rising dragon, scales covering the mystic dragon
Dance down
To the birthplace of the thread
Where they intertwine
With the thread
To breathe in the sweat of the rustling sheets
From the double bed found there
The dragons, phoenixes, and lip-licking priests

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Double bed is a power loom, double bed as a power loom, double bed with a power loom
The woman manager
Foamed at the mouth in anger and
To this day still recites the Heart Sutra
Before the shrine of her ancestors

Clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack, clackity-clack
Form itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is form
Sex itself is emptiness, Emptiness itself is sex

    Call them out

    Be called out

    We women are called out
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère