Li Bai (701-762)
The beauty sits behind a jeweled screen,
Lamenting him with lovely, furled brows.
When all I see are cheeks stained wet with tears,
I wonder, where’s the one who broke his vows?
Sings like a song
In a dance of life
Between the light
And she moves closer
As a shadow, a flicker
Mixed with the green
Of a willow tree
The fog rolls in
Until the air is full
Of her breath, lain dormant
Upon my neck
And my skin awakes
As dawn begins to break
Red as a peach with a smile on her face,
Face with a smile as a peach in her place.
Willow that hangs and shakes its drapery low,
Low is the willow that hangs as the wind does flow.
Wavers the blossom as wind and hair entwine,
Entwines the hair with wind, this blossom of mine.
Roams the road as the moon sinks west,
West sinks the moon where the road roams best.
After “Reckless Spirit” (Barbarian Bodhisattva) by Liu Dao (1511-1598)
In the desert she rides across the sun-burnt sands
A fern surrounds my life like a hollow maze
In the intricate lattice of love’s first gaze;
Following a pattern that guides me on this road
I reach for her lips beneath the mistletoe.
My love comes forth with the apple of desire,
A tangled taste that takes a life to acquire;
Magic and nightshade in a mandrake stew,
I drink the nighttime herbs in a witch’s brew.
Seared in my skin like a tattoo of her name,
My cry has faded to a touch without shame;
Pulled by a thread that stains the earth and sky