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Les Chrysanthèmes

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I have put aside
the pearls you gifted me.
Henceforth I will be adorned
in dew
and the bitter taste of tears.






A call at dawn: the last courier
passes, low on the horizon, winging
her way to the capital.
Her jade wings carried no word from you.

For my sorrow I tolerate no messenger—
only the wild geese,
such is our long acquaintance.




My hatred will not drown itself in wine.
The seven seas are not sufficient to quench its fire;
their waters cannot match it for bitterness.




The chrysanthemums are flayed of beauty
and clutter the ground.

The damage is done:
who would gather them now?
I wait alone by the window,
and the night is long in coming.

A fine rain patters on the plantains,
diminishing by evening—
drop by drop,
leaf to leaf.
The gauze of my veil is drenched.

How is it that one word – sorrow – encompasses all this.




Would I were a handmaiden
of the Lords of the Four Skies!
I would shed this mourning robe of scales
and coil myself, mortal,
in your bed of earth.

I extend my claws but cannot reach you.
You are gone from me, though I have searched
to the furthest expanses of the Western sky.