Traces in Flowing WaterTranslations
Traces in Flowing Water
Remember that day in early autumn, midday
on our pilgrimage around the Drepung monastery?
A woman who sat on the bank
of a mountain stream gently
dipped a few sheets of shining copper
again and again into the flowing water.
Dipping them, lifting them.
The copper, engraved with images of bodhisattvas,
engraved with words of bodhisattvas.
The copper pieces, bound together
with sturdy twine, resembled a brush,
the water its paper upon which it wrote a prayer.
Each copper sheet was a printing block
that stamped its impression into the flowing water，
its images changing in the blink of an eye.
Imprinted with the images of bodhisattvas,
imprinted with the words of bodhisattvas,
this water meanders through this world of dust.
And this: those who cannot see
how the water is stamped offer a futile smile.
And this: I, who can see, believe without doubt
and so the copper’s prayers reveal.
—Woeser, July 14, 2020
(Translated by Ian Boyden, July 15, 2020)