Con onor muore
chi non puo serbar vita con onore
—inscription on Butterfly’s dagger

 

Nice huh, and when does the robin build its nest?
It’s hard to know, Cho-cho-san.
Yesterday I went to replace your broken umbrella.
Easy enough in New York, except trends come and go.
What importers had the day before yesterday
I couldn’t find today.

Maybe I was just a day too late. I did find a matching fan
and umbrella set with I love the Big Apple
in dayglo colors. But that’s not the plot of this opera
and it seemed a little garish even for Broadway.
Certainly not appropriate for a former geisha.

This is a big city Cho-cho-san.
I’ve seen robins in Central Park year around
and someone told me they build nest all year—at least here.

Cho-cho-san, I didn’t notice any today.
Daylight disappeared at 7:30 this morning.
I crossed Seventh Avenue, bought a paper,
watched two taxis run four red lights,
entered the subway stairwell.

If you know your way around like I do
there’s no reason to come up. I can
get all the way to the stage door underground.

And when rehearsals are confused and extended,
when management pays to miss lunch and dinner,
and when props starts hanging cherry branches a seven o’clock
for an eight o’clock curtain, it’s hard to know if robins mate
more or less. Strange, I had no idea
there were robins eating caterpillars in Japan.
I never considered them an oriental bird.