The Monk’s Vision
Aloft a brothel’s barge
with two beside
liquid lines processional,
embowered golden scents,
stood a painted courtesan
as in a vision the monk saw.
His chanting fingers trembled,
as if her subdued scarlet figure
were of a bride, pink as dew,
whom he had left to follow
the path of his enlightenment.
Fearful he took a closer look:
the vision turned, her gaze obsidian
and chill his blood like the Yangtze ran
his visage grayed like the Changjiang Plain
where she for him in dishonor won
his pellucid peace with her forsaken cries.
He made as to rise, prostrate to sink, reverent,
but she her glance of saber-scorn withdrew
and looking behind at her companion true
whispered, “There sits a saintly hooded fool!”