Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Office Party Senryu

office party
my female boss's coat
on top of mine

Leaning into Reeds: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2019

Commentary by Dee Evetts: How are we to interpret this? There are so many options. For readers inclined towards intrigue (and I do mean the idea of intrigue, naturally) there is the scenario wherein a message is routinely passed between these two — who are already clandestine lovers — that conveys, “Meet me afterwards at my place/your place”. (Depending whose coat is on top?) Obviously this is pure conjecture. Both of the coat-owners may in fact be single, which would rule out the issue of fidelity and simplify things to a question of what may be deemed appropriate in the workplace. Alternatively this may be purely a fantasy on the part of the narrator: the sight of his attractive boss’s coat on top of his own turns him on, or at least gives him ideas, and cause to speculate whether she is being suggestive. Or: he realizes that it must be accidental, and yet still it gives him a weird feeling, since he has never thought of her sensually before now. I shall close this paragraph out — probably none too soon — with the additional thought that the boss lady may prefer to be on top in any circumstance. Why did I select this poem in the first place? Because of how it packs so much into one simple picture. And also because it made me smile...excerpted from "Relationships in Haiku: When Things Fall Apart," tsuri-dōrō, 12 Nov/Dec. 2022