Thursday, February 28, 2019

Poetry Corner - Circumcision Scar

This is the fifth in a series of poems and song parodies that I wrote for a contest that centered around male infant circumcision. The contest encouraged original songs and poems, as well as parodies of other works. For my last Poetry Corner entry, I posted an original poem, trying to encapsulate the feeling of helplessness that I feel at not being able to do anything to stop the mutilation and abuse of children unable to fend for themselves.

This time, I'm posting a poem, inspired by the melody of the Japanese children's song, "Akatonbo."

The word "akatonbo" means "red dragon flies" in Japanese, and in this song, they serve as a reminder of the singer's long-lost childhood.

When I first heard this song, I thought the melody was rather sad, as if looking back at a traumatic memory wishing it would have been different. I had to find out what the lyrics were, and sure enough, they reflected the melody perfectly.

Here are the original Japanese lyrics in both Japanese script and English translation:





Red dragonflies
Red dragonflies
In the red sunset
When was it that
I watched them
On someone's back last?

In mountain fields
We gathered mulberries
In small baskets
Or was it just
An illusion?

At fifteen
My big sister left home
To get married
Her letters have
Long since ceased to come

Red dragonflies
In the red sunset
Look, one has stopped there
On the tip
Of a bamboo pole

Having seen what the song was about, I was inspired to write lyrics that may reflect what a grown man who resents having been circumcised might feel now that he is older, aware of what has happened to him, and unable to change the past. Rather than reflect the Japanese translation, I wrote them to fit the rhythm of the original song. In my version of the song, a circumcision scar replaces the dragonflies, both serving the same function of taking the singer back to a time when things were different.

Circumcision Scar
Back when I was in my mother's womb,
Back when I was born
Intact and whole,
There at her breast I'd suckle
Mindless of what was to come

Sleeping blissfully rocked in her arms
Long ago it seems
Oh that life
Had been that way forever
Was it only just a dream?

Then a stranger took me from her breast
Oh so suddenly
Behind closed doors
There on a table
Men with scalpels had their way with me

Time has passed, I've yet to understand
Now that I am grown
Now when I see
My circumcision scar
Tears are always sure to come.

"How can you remember?" ask those who wish to belittle a resentful man's feelings.

An intactivist friend of mine once said something along the lines of:

"A circumcised man is reminded of his circumcision every time he urinates, showers, masturbates or makes love. The question is, how could he forget?"

Even if you can't remember, even if you don't; the scar is there day in and day out to remind you, for the rest of your life.

Related Posts:
Poetry Corner - Song Parody: "My Foreskin Home"