unfortunate building timber
gets left in a hidden valley
Bamboo feathers and pine bayonets gaurd the seam of the valley. Someone’s built a small gods’ shrine over the spring, and hikers in floroescent, multi-colored synthetics leave dippers full of water on the surrounding rocks: placating offerings. Disaster never looms, but seems to hover, like starlight glimpsed from the corner of the eye, just short of definitive substance and impossible to deny. Against such disaster the hikers fill plastic dippers and position them around the water shooting out of a clear plastic hose, rubbing their hands in supplication as if shaping balls of dough. They pray to the old and unseen gods for the two-fold blessing: the prosperity and success of kith and kin, and their safe obscurity from the demolitions of the highest reaches. Who hasn’t seen it happen? Power without humility, position without merit, and the resulting fall. All we want is to live comfortable, hundreds of lips mouth by the spring each season. As if each were a spurned worthy, unlucky only by birth, as if the world were not inherently uncaring, as if loss and ruin were not the partners of gain and increase.
but what I lament are the common bones
unnamed in the records of immortals
Immolate, from in, “upon,” and mole, “to sprinkle,” as in, to sprinkle with sacrificial meal. Self-immolation as self-anointment, to place a martyr’s crown on a common head and turns one’s flesh and bones to banners recording what others would not write.
Since February 2011, roughly 20 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government and Chinese rule in the Tibetan Autonomous region. For more information, please see the International Campaign to Save Tibet’s fact sheet. An internet search turns up a variety of news articles and blog posts.
For the text of the Chinese poems and their English translations, please see pp. 46-49. The internet’s been spotty, I’ve been busy: hopefully when both situations calm down I can go back to writing out the Chinese.