The komoris' eyes fix the camera

from around

and in the straining double bandoliers' hump

the babies shaven heads strain

The body dares not face the camera

The frontal posture is not for the servant

heads turned bent regards meek and in stress

hair hastily gathered in the dark

now straggly with their loads

and in the eked-out smiles

the years of sleeplessly fading pallid faces

the rough cotton kimono

drab thick resistant to baby-faeces and crachat

And in their stilted sandals

their meagre dignity in a stoop

the bare adolescent feet still showing

Whose mothers are whose children?


"KOMORI is a generic term that consists of a noun, ko (a child), and a verb, moru (to protect or to take care of); Japanese use it to refer to any person, male or female, old or young, who takes care of children. (...) Like their European counterparts, nursemaids and nannies, komori began to appear in what Michel Foucault has called the "discourse of power" in the late nineteenth century..."

from Mariko Asano Tamanoi's "Songs as Weapons: The Culture and History of Komori (Nursemaids) in Modern Japan", in The Journal of Asian Studies, 50, no.4 (November 1991): 793-817.

T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at http://www.stateless.freehosting.net/Collection of Poems.htm

Last updated July 05, 2016