by Xiao Maxian tr. Fan Jinghua
Once, an ancient acquaintance entered a temple, carrying into it the moonlight cool as water. Hence, the name of the temple. Or, such has been the rumor.
The night is clear, the moon full, I treading on creaky gravels;
on this pebble path, no dust, no traces of beings, no enchanted entanglement,
bamboo leaves stoop to touch the shoulders that pass by.
Stone steps deliver in their ferry a faint coat of frost, and
from the acupoint of zenith, sleep is dropping, cool.
Also dropping is my set of emptied bowels, the empty courtyard and the trees.
This calmness holds a graceful posture and grave solemnity, in which
an ancient acquaintance in a cloak of moonlight entered the gate of the obscure temple.
Where the moonlight drops, the coolness flows like water. The temple got its name
ever since, and, moonlight-washed, it stood immaculate from the dust of this world.
One man, one temple. One moon, one shadow. Time flows, as does
the ignorance of man, and emptiness has been flowing, wordless for a hundred years.
Now, I’ve come, not because I have the great wisdom of transcendence.
I am entangled with worldly tentacles, but I have a lasting lamp in me.
In the cloak of moonlight I wade through the water of time, treading on the crispy light.
This temple is isolated, with a gate like a mirror. From the depth of its emptiness
comes a faint hubbub of sufferings. The gate clams up like the doors of a heart. Killing
has never ceased, human blood and flesh scattered in the outer space
across the spread-eagle Mercury River. A myriad of spirits glitter in their own night.
The fact is the temple and the night and the moon are all my fabrication.
Only in meditation am I housed in a cassock, and hence a being is a temple, everything
stilled. Perhaps I am journeying through all my previous lives toward a past one,
while this acquaintance of mine not only stands as a shade but also has respiration,
warmth and dignity. The light for my edification, igniter for my epiphany, he is
so gracious and civilized. But for the acupuncture of coldness that keeps me awake
I may evolve into a thought and dream, orbiting into oblivion.
If not for the clarity I attained in awakeness, I would still take here as an illusion,
but on the heels of this acquaintance, I entered here, a chance encounter achieved.
If my body is the temple, I am already initiated to true freedom. With no exceptions,
all the highways and roads to any direction are winding paths to the Temple.
About the Poet:
Xiao Maxian, penname of Wang Shasha, born in late 1970s, writes poetry, essays and stories since 2004. Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and she won the Second Prize for Ye Hong International Women Poetry Competition in 2007. She now lives in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, and serves as a webmaster in Poemlife.com, an influential poetry website in Mainland China.