Short Talk on Geisha

by Anne Carson

Anne Carson

The question of geisha and sex has always been complex.
Some do, some don’t. In fact, as you know, the first
geisha were men (jesters and drummers). Their risky
patter made the guests laugh. But by 1780 “geisha”
meant woman and the glamorous business of the tea
houses had been brought under government control.
Some geisha were artists and called themselves
“white”. Others with nicknames like “cat” and
“tumbler” set up shacks every night on the wide
river bed, to vanish by dawn. The important
thing was, someone to yearn for. Whether the
quilt was long, or the night was too long, or
you were given this place to sleep or that
place to sleep, someone to wait for until
she is coming along and the grass is stirring,
a tomato in her palm.

Last updated August 19, 2022