Academic journal article Hecate

The Phoenix and the Dragon

Academic journal article Hecate

The Phoenix and the Dragon

Article excerpt

The Phoenix and the Dragon

It used to be all so lush

Monique says

we stare from the apartment

at the brown steep hill

terraced with stones

we can see long black scars

where the bamboo and vines

were raked into bundles

for burning

there is a low shack

close against a narrow rift

where the hill folds into the lips of a vulva

the shack is without windows or doors

but the iron, or worse, the asbestos is fluted out

a pleated skirt spinning

around the bamboo struts

You know, I think someone lives there

I've seen washing hanging I say

They're the farmers

planting a lychee orchard

How do they get the water?

It looks so barren

There's a trough further down and a spring

they used the other place just for bathing

and washing I think

the other place is a broken bamboo frame

for a tent or a teepee

above our cement cliff

built against mud slides

during typhoons

Since then I have seen six men

squatting outside the shack

washing clothes in buckets

chewing on corn

their voices crossing my dreams

in the night

they sweep the hill and burn

by day like industrious housewives

in history books

today after school

the teepee was covered

with loose canvas

and tonight it is a cone of light

golden, in the groin of the hill

the hill used to be

so lush, Monique says

you'd have loved it

you would

But surely the hill will fly again

a green phoenix with her pink eggs

small prickly baubles shining

on her gorgeous tail

so when we suck that smooth sweet flesh

we're really dining on the food of myths

well, perhaps even of the Empress XiXi

the Dragon Lady

who spent China's entire navy budget

building her Summer Palace lake

with a great marble boat

in winter you can walk on the ice around it

watching where other tourists

far out on the lake are whirled around on sleds

like babies in prams

while the faultlines in the ice boom

through your legs like guns

XiXi dragon-phoenix

also had the corpse of her nephew's concubine

stamped into the narrow well of her Summer Palace

a spite ghost

to defeat the British and American invaders

well, that's my story

it's not told quite like that in history books

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.