Yang Fuxi Practices, poems by Lynne Thompson
Lynne Thompson was the winner of the Tucson Literary Award (Poetry) in 2017, the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize in 2016 and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles for 2015-16. She is the author of Start With a Small Guitar and Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award This year, she won the 2018 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize for her forthcoming manuscript Fretwork. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ecotone, New England Review, Barrow Street and, Poetry, among others. Thompson is Reviews and Essays Editor for Tebot Bach’s literary journal Spillway.
Yang Fuxi Practices
A Dying Craft
China Daily, February 2, 2007
Making a bow demands
Jiangsu bamboo, antler
of a water buffalo or ox-
horn for the bow’s belly,
sinew of a beast to resist
extension, bound with
a taut silk thread. Later,
layers of ox muscle are
glued to the bow. A week
passes and the next layer
is glued on to strengthen
the instrument. A warrior
might ornament his bow
with snake-skin or birch-
bark, might secure the grip
with some stingray’s hide.
If forced to battle, a warrior’s
string hand wears short nails,
a thumb ring, and he carries
arrows of suitable length.
The last maker was heir to this
graceful vocation, apprentice to
his father who was taught by his.
What will the son of Fuxi learn?
Why blame the faith you have lost? Heaven remains:
the falling of a fixed star,
the breast of the naked moon,
summer for prose,
lemons for nakedness and languor,
the orange tree, in various light,
burning to be the bitch she will become
pulped ripe by fondling and doubly sweet.
God’s angry with the world again,
unable to sleep, to pray. As a road winds,
he dines alone surrounded by reflections,
his dolls destroyed, sprawled in a pigsty.
We lay roses on his grave, listen for sounds
of cannons in rooms grotesque with furniture
of snow. Through my bedroom’s window
appear puzzled faces in the dying elms,
dark as if cloven from darkness.
© Lynne Thompson