Lady Pistil

Su, Dong-Po (1036 A.D.-1101 A.D.)


    When I was seven, I met an old nun at Mei City. Her last name was Zhu. I forget her first name. She was more than ninety. She said she once followed her master to visit the palace of the King of the State of Shu 1. It was extremely hot one day. The king and his wife, Lady Pistil, enjoyed the cool air by Mo-he Pool. The king wrote a poem at that time. Zhu could remember it in its entirety. Now forty years had passed and Zhu has been dead for a long time. No one knows this poem any more. I can only remember the first two sentences. For entertainment during the days of leisure I supplement the poem based on its melody, "A cave god".

    Her skin is white like ice and her bones are fine like jade. Naturally, she is always cool and never sweats. The palace on the pool is filled with delicate fragrance as the breeze comes. When I open the embroidered curtain, the crescent moon peeks onto her face. She reclines on a pillow, but is not asleep. Her hairpin loosens and her hair is disheveled. I get up, holding her white hand, and lead her to Mo-he Pool. It is quiet. I frequently see sparse stars cross the Milky Way 2. What time is it? The small hours 3 have passed. The moonlight wanes. The Jade String Star descends. I count on my fingers to see when the west wind will come. Time flies and secretly steals my youth like water flowing by without notice.

1 The name of the King of Shu was Chang (long day) Meng.

2 The Chinese call the Milky Way "Yin He" (the Silver River). There is a story about the Milky Way in Chinese mythology. Once upon a time, there was a pair of lovers who indulged in play and did not work. God punished them by changing the man into the Shepherd Star and the woman into the Spider Star (Vega) so that they had to work all the time. One was located in the eastern sky and the other in the western sky. They were allowed to meet each other once a year, the night of July 7th. On that night, the magpies (happy birds) would build a heavenly bridge from east to west so that the man and the woman could meet. The magpies made the Milky Way we see today.

3 The small hours refers to the time period from midnight to 2 a.m.