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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 4, December 2014

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Joann Grisetti
Winter Springs, Florida, USA


Private Rental

My father, a Lieutenant in the Navy, received orders for post-war Sasebo, Japan. Dad drove us across the United States, from Woodbury, New Jersey to San Francisco. After five weeks of travel by ship and train, we settle into our new home. My parents choose one with three bedrooms, and then discover it recently closed as a brothel. I did not understand the word brothel, and in my mind, it became a palace. I had my own bedroom, with a window looking onto a vacant lot.

a few mama-sans
many papa-sans
butterflies outside

The wood floors are painted a deep burgundy color by a former tenant, who went around the furnishings, leaving light circles in odd places in each room. We fill the rooms with furniture from the warehouse for Navy families and crayoned drawings from the long trip. The windows all have three layers, screen, glass, and metal, that slide in and out of a wall pocket. No curtains or curtain rods. We learn a new word—shoji—sliding screen. At night, the metal layer secures our family, but during the day, we pull either the mess screen or glass out of the wall. Playing a family game of Parcheesi on the floor of our living room, shadows interrupt our laughter. A family in kimono is watching our family, fascinated by our behavior. Mother hangs curtains the next week.

shoji opens—
the sound of fish sellers

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