Saturday, September 05, 2009

Endless-peace Arrowhead Song - Li Ho

Among lacquer ash, bone dust, cinnabar river-stone,
ancient bitter-ice blood spawning bronze blossoms,

rain dissolved white feathers and thin gilt bamboo:
nothing left but a battered old three-spine wolf fang.

I took two horses, scoured a battlefield, flat rocky
fields east of a post-station, below weed-choked hills,

sun cut short. Wind blew on and on, stars moaning,
black cloud-banners hung drenched in empty night,

spirits and ghosts everywhere, emaciate, crying out.
I offered sacrificial cream, a jarful, and roast lamb.

Insects silent, geese sick, spring reeds red. Tangled
gusts bid a traveler farewell, feeding shadow-flames.

I searched antiquity in tears, and found a loose barb,
tip broken, cracked red. It sliced through flesh once,

and in South Lane at the east wall, a boy on horseback
wanted my bit of metal, offered me a bamboo basket.

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