This Kind of Starlit Night

Poetry

[Image: Photograph of Yabzhi Taktser by Woeser. My thanks to Michael Simms of Vox Populi, who first published this poem on November 15, 2016.]

On August 25, 2016, Woeser posted the photograph above. In its star-filled sky, the Milky Way seems like a whisper of ancient light as it turns above the ruins of Yabzhi Taktser, rotating over the Dalai Lama’s old family house in Lhasa, empty and quiet. And accompanying this photo, Woeser asked this question: “This kind of a starlit night, if I could genuinely see it with my own eyes, if I had but one wish, could I make this happen?” Even though she was born in Lhasa, and even though she’s from Tibet, she cannot travel there freely and hasn’t been able to return to her native home for two years. 

There is an ancient map of Tibet in which the entire country is depicted as the body of a woman. Her body is covered with temples, with mountains, with forests, with rivers. This woman’s name is Srinmo. The same stars circling over the ruins of the Dalai Lama’s old family house also circle over the body of Srinmo. And Srinmo, sentient earth, lies there night after night and looks up at these circling stars. Her wish to return to the centering is timeless.

This Kind of a Starlit Night

                    for Woeser

I would unfurl the map of Srinmo,

but let the sheep keep their skins.

I would unfurl the map of Srinmo,

but let the sheep drift like clouds across the high plateaus.

The map painted on sheep skin would remain rolled up,

while I unfurl the other map of Srinmo,

this one painted as large as Tibet itself

when it was the size of its sovereign, 

independent self.

We would run our hands over it,

smoothing it over the fields, over the smallest stones, 

until it is impossible to distinguish 

what is map and what is country,

impossible to distinguish 

pigment from the mountains themselves.

Srinmo’s clear eyes,

the springs pouring from the canyons,

Srinmo’s warts,

yak shit,

the temples built upon Srinmo’s body,

the Potala Palace,

Srinmo’s sandalwood tree,

the mystical words written upon the leaves 

       of the golden sandalwood tree 

       of the Kumbum Monastery,

the dialects whispered in remote valleys,

Srinmo’s breast surrounded 

by an eight-petaled lotus,

the galaxies spinning through vultures’ hearts,

prayer flags,

prayer wheels,

a snow leopard’s hidden movements within the snow line,

the swept edge left by a withered brush.

All of this inseparable: map, land, heart.

That shore. This shore. Paper. Earth.

Eternal Srinmo lies looking at the heavens,

a sky full of stars,

the atmosphere filled with the oncoming enemy’s dust.

—Ian Boyden

October 10, 2016

8月25日,唯色发了一张夜晚的照片:在充满了星辰的天空,银河像光芒的耳语,绕旋在尧西达孜的废墟上,绕旋着达赖喇嘛的亲人在拉萨的老房子,空阒。在照片旁边,她问了这个问题:“这样的星光夜晚若真能目睹,有一个愿望也就可以实现了吧?” 虽然她生在拉萨,虽然她来自图伯特,但她不能自由地在那里旅行,并且已经两年不能返回家乡。 

有一张古老的图伯特地图,整个国家是一位女人的身体。她的身体覆盖着寺庙,山脉,森林,河流。 这个女人的名字是森嫫。那些星辰绕旋着达赖喇嘛及亲人在拉萨的老房子,也绕旋着森嫫的身体。而森嫫,有感的土地,每晚躺在那里,看着这些绕旋的星。 她想回归中心的愿望是永无止境的。

《这样的星光夜晚》

            ——献给唯色

我想打开森嫫地图

但让羊保持他们的皮肤

我想打开森嫫地图

但让羊在高原飘散如云.....

在绵羊皮上画的地图可以卷起

当我打开另一张森嫫地图

像图伯特一样大

像历代独立主权的图伯特一样大

我们会用手把纸磨平

摩挲草原,摩挲最小的石头

无法分清

哪个是画哪个是国家

无法分清

颜料与图伯特的高山

森嫫清澈的眼

峡谷的氿泉

森嫫皮肤上的瘊子

牦牛的屎

森嫫身上的寺庙

颇章布达拉

森嫫的菩提树

塔尔寺的菩提树叶上的文字……

乡音回响在幽远的山谷

她的八瓣莲花围绕的胸怀

鹰鹫心里的漩涡星系

经幡

转经筒

雪豹隐秘地跑过雪线

枯笔的偏锋..... 

所有这些不可分割:地图,土地,心

彼岸。此岸。纸。土。 

永恒的森嫫斜躺着望上面

望天空密布星辰

望大气层充满了敌人的灰尘……

Ian Boyden

10月10日2016年

Constellations of Humanity

Each luminous dot on this map represents one reader of this poem. As the number of readers increases, the stars begin to cluster and form an increasingly detailed constellation. My intent is to show how brightly a poem glows across our world. I welcome your light.

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