Three days after the first of spring, we go down to the river to make offerings to the Dragon King. Little black eels teem in brilliant blue and red plastic buckets. The river froze to the bank this year, a sheet of unreadable grey. One by one the devout women, wives and mothers of fishermen, kneel on the concrete quay to pour a bucket of eels into the river where we cracked the ice. The slender shapes sink immediately into charcoal waters. Dark on dark. I peer in vain for some movement, a sign the soft bodies breathe and will live, and in this way fulfill the bargain the women came to strike: returning the Dragon’s children, that He might always return theirs.