Hou Yi and the Ten Suns

Impatient little black birds,
each three feet quickly darting
overhead in the sky, disobeying
mother and the duty of their inheritance.

Each, three feet quickly darting,
burning the ground with insolence.
Mother the duty of their inheritance:
the flying arrow comes.

Burning the ground; with insolence
overhead and in the sky disobeying,
the flying arrow comes-
oh, impatient little black birds …


Completed April 6, 2003.┬áMy first attempt at a loose pantoum (spiral structure) for high school Writer’s Craft class.

The suns were sons of the Heavenly Emperor, ravens with three legs. Each day their mother would take one sun out for a chariot ride over the earth. But like naughty children, they hated waiting their turn and having to sit still so as not to burn the earth. Early one morning they all sneaked out to play, and were so rambunctious that they did set fire to the earth and caused much suffering.

Finally the archer-god Hou Yi was summoned to retrieve them. Unfortunately he was hot-tempered himself and, growing impatient with trying to coax them back down, ended up shooting and killing nine of them. Needless to say, the remaining sun was very obedient after this. Hou Yi too did not escape unscathed for his actions, as he was stripped of his immortality.