I Know a Woman
Finally you love to be a high maintenance girl, or self-maintaining,
And you’ve learned how to roll over a man like mounting a cockhorse;
With only a few squirms you are already in a perfect pose.
Your arms flail by your thighs like paddles to spur and steer yourselves
Forward, a beautiful tail fanning out behind like my blissful mind.
I dive upward like a kite into my own dimension of space and time.
Speed does not punch you into a notch in the unknown,
For your heart latch is a cool flintlock in need of a scrape,
And the scenery along the way is too smooth and mesmerizing.
All the while, at the edge of your sight, a little girl
From my memory, eyes bright like graphite, moves abreast and still.
She alone knows and lives her lives of the past, the future and the present.
The intoxicated man-horse you know so well that you let yourself remain a woman,
As if you are on a cockleshell, leaning backward to move forward.
It is a river you are riding, you know it? You are ignorant like water.
August 11, 2008
Note: The poem contains one allusion to Centaur and Caenis in Greek mythology. It is said that Caenis was originally a female. After she was raped by Poseidon, she asked him to change her into a man so that she could no longer be raped any more. She was also made invulnerable to weaponry. She then changed the name to Caeneus. Caeneus was one great member to the legendary people the Lapiths, and the Lapith king was marrying Hippodameia “the tamer of horses,” Centaurs were invited to the wedding. As Centaurs were not used to wine, they became drunk and unruly. One particular Centaur tried to rape the bride when she came to toast. Then a fight broke out. Since Caeneus could not be beaten by any weapon, Centaur could only bury him into the earth (into hell) by rocks and trees.
Battle between Centaurs and Lapiths by Piero di Casimo (detail)
For me, this poem, beyond its ostensible sexual content, is essentially about a girl growing up to a woman, and she finally realizes how to make use of her sexuality. The man-horse in the poem may refer to the Centaur aspect of man, while the Chinese version of man-horse 人马 may refer not only to the half-man-half-horse monster or beastly man but also refer to the forces (men and horses) at her command.
For an interesting note, I read of an anecdote yesterday. One mid-aged woman bought a Nike T-shirt with a slogan “I like being on top” and found herself receiving embarrassing responses. Then, her husband asked others about the meaning of the slogan, some telling him that it conveys sexual nuance. The woman went to the shop, asking for a reimbursement, but the shop said that the slogan was actually meant to be a sports encouragement for such women as managerial female professionals, or at least their Chinese rendition as “reach to the highest peak” was. Obviously, no one in China would ever imagine there would be anyone wearing a T-shirtMamas’ “I Love My Cunt” T-shirt.
至此，想到昨天独到的一条趣闻。一位中年女人买了一件耐克T恤，然后总会有人盯着她看，令她很尴尬。原来，那上面写着I like being on top的英文，当然这在英文中有“我喜欢上位”（做爱）的意思，于是该女士夫妇去专卖店理论，而店方却说这不过是一个体育口号，他们的翻译是“登上最高峰”。显然，中国还不会有人敢于想象得到T-ShirtMamas印着I Love My Cunt我爱我屄（美国2004年的事）的T恤。