from Taj Mahal Tears

Ouyang Jianghe


Tears about to fly. Do they have eagle wings
or take a Boeing 767, taking off on
an economic miracle? Three thousand km of old tears, from Beijing
                    to New Delhi skies
just like that. After time flies, can the double exposed
red and white of our minds’ oriental archaeologies
match the supersonic, withstand
                    the miracle’s
sudden turbulence? Can we borrow eagle eyes to watch the sunset
dissolve inside a jellyfish like mica?
                    Can the Ganges’s
rainbow span of 2009 flow through the heavens, back to 1632?
If the flying sea trembles like a bedsheet,
if people today fall asleep in the depths of the sky,
                    will the ancients
be jolted awake, waking from traversing the sky’s torrential tears,
waking from the warbling of one hundred birds, into the eagle’s singularity
                    and sobriety?
Eagle, stop: the flight is preparing its descent.
With a swipe, mountains and rivers switch their masks.


Tears from one to one hundred, filled, overflowed.
From one flow to one hundred: an increase, a decrease,
or an interflow, each ending at zero?
As soon as emotion holds back tears, the heart washes in tears, the gods illuminate tears.
The many will ultimately heed the one, making tears more sparse
                    and more pure.
But shall those dark impure tears be stopped from flowing?
The lime and iron in the tears, the ore horizons, the mud and sand flowing together,
immense vitality, immense mortality, immense singing and weeping,
                    tears flowing when young,
old, weary, still flowing.
Eyes cried blind still flow. Flowing from those with eyes,
and in those with no eyes they bore an eye from which to flow. This tear of a
                    peacock whose
form is emptiness like a lantern, blue whether tailfeathers fan out or not.
Who could forget the color of the sea, however the color of the sun may rustle its tears?
E.g., blown in from Indian blue, the Indian red of gauze and silk.
E.g., the Chinese red that flows from fire eyes.


Tears like eyes borrowed but returned wrongly
are not in wristwatches. The eyes of the ancients and moderns
are each other’s opposites. A millennium-old love,
nearer than ten minutes of cable news.
                    Beyond the millennium
we wait in a long line. At the Taj Mahal, between the evening news
and ancient scrolls. We’re just tourists,
and whether our tears flow or not, amber is not an eye.
At times bird tears get the eyes wrong,
                    when an eagle eye
is moved into a cat’s eye, when behind security doors
we look from the internet to the starry sky beyond—
                    a thief
steals a deft Tagore. Will he leave behind Zhuangzi?
When Global System Mobile’s text messages send Beijing’s night snow
to the Agra morning. Spring’s shutter
clicks: in 2009, I snapped a picture of my 1632
                    self of no self.
Had my self been lost by myself?


Jade slivers a death more glorious than can be asked: because the hand of divine love
                    puts heart slivers
in the palm of imperial dotage.
Except no matter how much jade, Taj, is in the three thousand affections
                    piled on top of you,
a mere touch will turn it to dust.
The whole heart is jade, and when the heart aches, jade aches.
The balletic feet of jade slivers, supporting the jade from which mist emanates,
and also, jade slivers placing their past and current lives
                    from rhetoric to flesh
on the slivers of the shared heart of the whole of humanity.
In 2009, the mirror image glances back, handing over a trans-incarnational
                    1632 rendezvous.
What was is no more: an echo transmits the sound of a beauty knocking on the moon.
This is not the Taj speaking to other women, this is heart’s image
constructed in the substance of the image of the thing. Heart’s tears, tears of dripping things.
how great it would be to fly, but the Taj’s tears
are not any swallow you see,
because she is every swallow.
In eagle’s sleep, you are awake, walking, a stagger
                     from yes to no
dropping into the mañjusaka spider lily world, hearing as if in a daze
Shah Jahan calling you with the Taj’s name, but you
                     are a Chinese woman,
Lady Meng Jiang, Fragrant Consort Xiang Fei, poetess Li Qingzhao, Princess Taiping.

translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein