Lovely poetry by or about sex workers! The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is upon us! Yay!
By Su Xiaoxiao: a famous Chinese courtesan and poet, so beautiful poems were written about her for over 1500 years! Courtesans were trained as singers, dancers and poets in China. Haven’t found sex positive poems by english speakers yet.
Song of the Same Heartbeat:
I ride in a decorated carriage,
My darling rides a blue-white horse.
Where should we tie the knot for our heart?
Under the pine and cypress trees of Xiling.
By the later courtesan Liu Xiaoqing.
The carriage rumbles through the fragrent herbs of Xiling,
A message arrived from the inner quarters, inviting me to an outing.
I shed a cup of wine by myself on Su Xiaoxiao’s tomb,
Do you know that I am the one with the same feelings as you?
Under the same roof
play girls were sleeping
bush clover and the moon
— His heart is touched by the soft light and the companionship. The Japanese had a number of names for sex workers. In this Haiku both intimacy and distance.
Lighting the lamps,
One shadow is for each
of the dolls
— The sex workers have each other, live in a house together and there is someone who cares for them and lights the lamps. One shadow means that they are each a person. He knows them, even if he can only see them when he takes care of them, even if they are too precious and high status for him to personally know.
Dolls had great status and import. Dolls were crafted for “household shrines, for formal gift-giving, or for festival celebrations such as Hinamatsuri, the doll festival.” Pilgrims would buy them as a memory of a temple visit or a journey.
Black poet Claude McKay writes about sex workers in Harlem, part of the poem shows McKay’s empathy.
You can read it as a wish to make life safer and better for sex workers doing their work.
I hear the halting footsteps of a lass
In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
To bend and barter at desire’s call.
Ah, little dark girls who in slippered feet
Go prowling through the night from street to street!
Through the long night until the silver break
Of day the little gray feet know no rest;
Through the lone night until the last snowflake
Has dropped from heaven upon the earth’s white breast,
The dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet
Are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street.
Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
In Harlem wandering from street to street.