Comfort Women: a poem, a pantoum

Rules for writing a pantoum:

  1. Quatrains (stanzas with four lines)
  2. Infinite number of stanzas
  3. The second and fourth line are repeated as the first and third line in the next stanza
  4. In the last stanza, the second and fourth line are the third and first line of the first stanza, respectively
    1. AKA your first line is your last line

Example:

  • Stanza 1:
    • A
    • B
    • C
    • D
  • Stanza 2
    • B
    • E
    • D
    • F
  • Stanza 3 (last stanza)
    • E
    • C
    • F
    • A

Here it is:

 


They came like wolves in sheep’s clothing
and offered to redeem us for rice
and pickled radishes; our fathers closed in
on the arrangement. A business trade.

Our honor was redeemed for rice,
bodies emptied, ravaged among
casual arrangements. A business trade,
where our teeth-marked nipples stung,

bodies emptied, ravaged by young
men in uniform who stood in line
ignoring our teeth-scarred-body songs
and eager to see the woman assigned

to them, in uniform, smiling, alive.
In exchange for comforting soldiers, we received
men eager to seize the woman assigned,
freeing their enzymes and diseases.

In exchange for comforting soldiers, we received
their wrinkled packages further closing in,
fraying our insides, blood unceasing
as we came for these wolves in cheap clothing.


Earlier, I published a poem about comfort women. The following is a pantoum version of it. A lot of people don’t know about the story of comfort women, but during the Japanese-Korean War (during WWII), Korean women were taken in as sex slaves to “comfort” the Japanese soldiers after a “long day of work.”

And several decades later, in 2015, Japan and Korea made a settlement. The Japanese government agreed to pay ¥1 billion to a non-profit dedicated to funding the lives of comfort women.

None of the women would receive direct compensation nor would they receive a direct apology.

Many stories fall off the history curriculum, especially when they aren’t Eurocentric. So, the very least I can do is share a story and pass it along, so that the lives of these women will not be forgotten.

Let me know what you guys think, and if this inspires you to write a pantoum, tag me in your post, or share it in the comments!

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