cold mountain (38) (39)


to refuse would violate goodwill

Standing pressed between his shout and
the gaze of the crowd, she froze.
An answer might implicate her.
Silence might make him louder.
Caught between the job she came out to do and
the urge to turn around, even empty-handed,
she knew: a woman’s birth is hard,
a woman’s place is suffering.

In the third month…

In this lunar leap-year, the third month revolves twice. Once for the first of the cherry blossoms, once for their shattering against the wind and rain. Once for the first daytime temperature above 20 degrees, once for the first beads of sweat at dawn. Once for the return of the swallows’ scything flight, once for the chicks’ first feathers. Once for everything winter took, once for the salvage we turned into kites. Once for pale green, like a veil on the trees, once for emerald green, like a skin on the earth.

Chinese and English, pp. 60-63, here.

The first line of (39) is literally “The third month,” although Red Pine translated it as “April,” which is when the third lunar month roughly falls on the solar calendar. However, this is actually a lunar leap-year, and we do have two third months this year, so I went with the literal translation for the response.

…And, while some might bristle at my first response and the suggestion that birth as a woman is lower, I will say this: while not intrinsically lower (Buddha-nature has no high or low), practically and materially speaking, women suffer in ways that men do not. Violence and its threat is merely one of them. Thinking about acts of violence against women, and having witnessed more than one scene of intimidation in both East Asia and the West, all I can say is that we have to work harder if we want women to not experience life as a woman as suffering.


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