Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oxen Should Have Very Small Foreheads

This Pillow Book entry is inspired by The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon, translated and edited by Ivan Morris. Sei Shōnagon was a courtesan in 10th century Japan who kept a diary of the goings-on at court and concealed it in her wooden pillow. She made lists under various categories of specific, often quirky things.

from The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon:

     "Oxen should have very small foreheads with white hair; their underbellies, the ends of their legs, and the tips of their tails should also be white.
     I like horses to be chestnut, piebald, dapple-grey, or black roan, with white patches near their shoulders and feet; I also like the horses with light chestnut coats and extremely white manes and tails - so white, indeed, that their hair looks like mulberry threads.
     I like a cat whose back is black and all the rest white."


Oxen should have very small foreheads I suppose.  I've never had occasion to see oxen, much less to require that they have any size forehead.  Someone might tell you that a very small forehead will make for a more productive oxen or perhaps it is just a matter of physical attraction.  The way women are drawn to a man with broad shoulders and a prominent brow.  Deep in the fabric of her prehistoric mind lies the vestige of needing a man who's wide shoulders are a sign of the ability to hunt, protect, and provide.  Just as the brow tells her he will dominate her other suitors, and secretly she thinks he will also dominate her.  His features are symmetrical. His eyes are set wide under bushy eyebrows, nose centered and slim, a grin that can turn to snarl, and a cleft in the center of his chin.  He has a beard or at the least a scratchy patch of stubble. From his shoulders stem hard biceps and a scarred forearm.  His hands are large and hairy, capable.

Toiling in her hut, she watches the sun fade as she waits for the hunting party to return.  A baby boy coos and stretches in the fabric tied around her chest.  Soon she will feed him and stoke the fire before cautiously letting her eyes fall.  She hears far off voices and hurries to the opening.  Unable to see in the misty dusk, she listens, shushing her baby with a practiced rub of the back.  Soon she hears voices, feet shuffling, deep grunts of satisfaction, the heavy breath of one who has not rested in a long while.  He breaks from the pack with slaps on his back and snorts of approval.  On towering legs he closes the distance between them. Her heartbeat speeds and the baby rouses at the quickened pace.  He captures her head between his hands and kisses her hard on the lips. She loses her breath and sways towards his chest.  He leans down and kisses the baby softly on the top of his head. Taking her hand, he pulls her inside.  The sun has completed its journey and finally gone to sleep.


  1. very different, but very cool! you've obviously unbridled your imagination. keep it up.

  2. What an interesting blog you have. I enjoyed reading your posts. God's blessings to you. Lloyd


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