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Woodblock print. Surimono. Popular culture. A cockerel perched on a drum amid leaves, with poem. Nishiki-e on paper.

(Totoya Hokkei; British Museum)

 

Innocuousness

can be just as damning as

a flagrant dislay,

for those in jealousy’s grip.

Suspicions arise

as to what might be buried

beneath russet leaves,

or between well-written lines.

Female coyness leads men on.

Yes, chrysanthemums

can slowly change their colours,

with cultivation.

Even modesty can mask

duplicity of all kinds.

 

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