Journal » Trout 13 » The Flame [Shang Qin]
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The Flame

Shang Qin

translated by Steve Bradbury

Whenever the west wind blows, whenever the evening darkness gathers, whenever my nose is stuffed, whenever I walk alone, why is it that my shadow always flickers even though my stride is just as firm as ever?

I think back to that fateful year they broke half a dozen bamboo poles across my back, then, realizing the futility of conventional instruments of torture, flushed my throat and nostrils with icy water until they finally put an end to my curses.

Is it possible they could have known even then that my life was originally a ball of fire, a candle flame that had bolted from the altar of an ancient Buddhist temple?


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