Shangyang Fang

Early morning, swallows asleep, the horizon

a streak of whiteness like the belly of a fish.

Behind us, monks in straw-colored robes

chant Avatamsaka Sutra, the familiar

passage of Indra’s net, a ceiling of faceted

jewels, each reflecting infinite others,

which you call Analogue of the Cosmos

and I call Tale of an Obliterated Self.

We stop by the pavilion to buy smoked ribs

and corn. The river rocks with clear veins

are like the considered characters in an ink-brush

letter: porcelain cups, hairpin, farewell,

ginkgo railings, grief of a wife. We talk

tirelessly about love. Beyond the temple,

a girl shouting to her tired bull in rice paddies,

the bull mooing back. Cicadas in early autumn.

Those stone lions have water in their eye sockets

from the night’s condensed mist.

Originally published:
April 1, 2024


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