Chinese Mountain Man: The Phoenix
It was upon a quiet night
As graying clouds raced past the moon,
A sage and pupil made their way
Into a deep and darkened wood.
Among the thicket and the pines,
They traveled the uncertain trail,
But after wandering the night,
They finally settled for rest.
They set camp in an open space
And made a fire to warm their limbs.
But as they rested by the flames,
And reflected upon their day,
A bright but distant light appeared,
Which cast a mysterious hue.
It glowed unlike the sun or stars;
It shone with a nebulous light.
The source of light remained unseen
Among the glistening wraith-like fog.
And so the sage and boy resolved
To follow the alien beams.
But to both travelers' surprise,
They came upon a phoenix nest.
The phoenix sat there purple-plumed
And covered in a coat of fire.
It lay among the glowing rocks
Where it had made what seemed its nest.
“What purpose has this beast inside
This forest, master”, asked the boy.
“Does he not live among the sands,
And scorching hot Saharan climes?"
“Such birds are born in many worlds
And live out many lives”, said the sage.
“That fiery bird dies many times,
Many times more than you’d believe.”
“How painful then” the student said,
"To have to die so many times.”
The master turned towards the boy,
“It’s also reborn many times.
“Its death is not well understood,
But even less is its rebirth.
“For one’s death is not what men fear,”
The master said, “They fear rebirth.”
But as the sage and student stood
Discoursing by the creature’s nest,
It suddenly opened its wings
And flew into the starry sky.
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David is a poet, linguist and translator based in Montreal.