The Geisha Lamp
by Christina Frei

A girl once lived in a white house
on a tree-lined street
with her beautiful mother
and her father who played
songs on the ukulele for her.
For his work, the father traveled
to more and more conferences
all over the globe, as if
he were in search of something.

From his distant travels,
he brought home souvenirs,
offered up in his warm hands
that didn’t have time to strum
on instruments anymore. He brought:
flying fish t-shirts from Barbados;
a red dashiki from Capetown;
Snowglobes from the Swiss Alps;
and a Geisha-doll lamp from Japan.
Also coral necklaces for her mother,
‘Apologies’ her mother called them,
for what he could not give her anymore.

Of all the things,
The girl loved the Geisha lamp
best of all. She could sit
alone in its light and not feel lonely,
read her library books, or just stare at it,
its painted ruby lips, the way
the white porcelain face inclined
just so. Its black oval eyes
spoke of far away people,
and exotic lands where the father
had spent time with ladies just like this,
or so the mother had bitterly told her.

There were no raised voices to herald
the event. Perhaps her parents wished
a divorce to be as understated
as their marriage had been.
Cardboard boxes, quietly assembled
and filled with his books and his records,
his clothing, his cups and his plates,
and other things the girl had no idea
even belonged to anyone in particular.
But only when the Geisha lamp,
That she’d thought of as her own,
was wrapped and placed in the car,
only then did the girl realise
that her entire world had fallen apart.

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