Yang Gui-fei

Dur­ing the end of the Tang Dy­nasty (18–907

New England Review - - Investigations - Vic­to­ria Chang

Surely you know I will rule your be­sieged king­dom in the after­life, build the rivers so they flow into a great bath,

pop­u­late the land with plum trees, fo­li­ate the skies with golden birds.

Once I was more than a woman, more than a gold hair-pin, more than three thou­sand bathing con­cu­bines.

Once the sol­diers fol­lowed the scents of my long braid­ing curls, cord­ing around my neck.

They fol­lowed a peel­ing leader who trailed me the way a buz­zard steals breath from the dy­ing.

Surely you know that on this slope, as­pens and spruce will even­tu­ally be wrapped in fenc­ing,

hon­ey­suck­les hung with mesh, petu­nias draped by a stock­ade fence. The teth­ered an­i­mals

will go round and round a tree un­til they stran­gle them­selves. My body will hang with­out its shadow.

(2004, Vol­ume 25.3)

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