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


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like

To the Tune of Zui Hua Yin

李清照 Li Qingzhao
translated by Shangyang Fang

Satyr’s Flute

Shangyang Fang


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.