Silk Road

by Words by niuniu. Art by Sasha LaCômbe. | December 31, 2020


金, the gold

caged bodhi tree

among monks

one quick-tempered

another on the phone

another ten years old

dying monks

among dying tourists

among red eaves and paper walls

they speak of peppered chives and burnt tea

(and a cat strutting across the floor)


火, the fire

has long deserted

the beacon tower

where the poet once passed by

in an emerald spring

he said, “farewell,

my friend, drink up,

west of the gate,

there will be no more friends”

(and how very old is the willow tree)



木, the wooden

combs and

tawdry bracelets

hauled in from

factories on the coast

glitter among drip-fat lamb skewers

raisins and plump dates

in the jingling of good camels

travellers and swindlers flock

(and bargain over imitation jade)



土, the soil

green, then alkaline

then dry as salt

upon which the roads wriggle

against the slim horizon

of an uncertain history, extended

by overpriced counterfeits

in a drooping mist

this reminiscent hour

sun rays cascade

on the ancient trade route

cars speed through

pausing occasionally, only for

a flock of cows or yaks

(civilisation twists, turns, stumbles on)


Words by niuniu. Art by Sasha LaCômbe.