Li Qingzhao speaks
Banana tree in frozen rain:
nothing looks more dead, nothing harder to kill.
An axe can’t chop through.
My garden saw makes it bleed milk.
The trunk won’t rot, can’t burn,
but a field mouse leaves his footprint.
We planted the tree under our window.
Even cut to the ground, roots and stump,
its heart reaches up to pierce the gray sky,
and flower in the sun.
Too tired to dry my sandalwood hair,
today I hack it short with a paring knife.
Black and crystal against the cinnamon tiles.
If you ever rap on the window, remember
I’ve grown too old to blush. The nape of my neck
needs your breath to warm it.