Spring 1984 • Vol. VI No. 2 A Gathering of PoemsApril 1, 1984 |

An Arrowhead from the Ancient Battlefield of Ch’ang-P’ing

Lacquer dust and powdered bone and red-coloured cinnabar: their ancient blood spurted out to bear these bronze flowers. The white feathers and gilt shaft have rotted in the rain and only the three broken wolf's-teeth of the spine remain.Riding the plain with two horses I searched to the stone-choked fields east of the post-station where the hill is overgrown with weeds. The wind blew constantly that short day and the desolate stars were obscured by tatters of clouds hanging in darkness between us. From each side of me the dead shrieked out in hunger. I drained the curds from my flask and offered roast mutton as victual. But the insects were silent, the geese swooned, the reed-shoots were blighted. Voices flickered in the fire and pursued me as I left. I sought this place in vain and found only a broken arrow whose shattered point, rusted and snapped, once pierced through human flesh. In the eastern quarter, travelling south, a young pedlar on horseback urged me to exchange the relic

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