Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Chinese by Dong Li

Tower of Enchantment
On Mount Guanyin, an elderly points to a Buddhist temple, saying this is the site of Emperor Yang
of Sui’s Tower of Enchantment, thus the poem.

in the mirror supine lacquerwares shake unwillingly
laughter and wooing, to please the emperor
music rooms secret chambers fling and fake for wedding night

if one presents gold leaf and jade beast
to catch a glimpse of the royal boat slow on the Grand Canal
why would fireflies deep in the palace take one aback?

he grows old, the arch bridge of his body brims
with boundless spring waters of desire
he drains himself dry, in the loin of the opulent empire

he’s anxious to take the whole world through the lattice window
yet fears that his days are numbered and the corridor too short
the beauty of butterfly flowers captivates with killing charm

the mirror spits out assassins who fill up the fields
what he fears after all is himself, in some reincarnation
neck onto a brocade band, soberly at a loss  

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