Reading Ma Jian on the Farm

Summer, 2008 / No. 20

The Tibetan widow

Crushes bones and feeds them to vultures

In order to bring peace to the dead

The weeping Buddha dries my tears

I run barefoot through the apple orchards

A wild dog follows me

The Ceremony of Empowerment

Sways in the predator’s favour

The young girl quivers within

Two white rings hover round a black goat’s eyes

It stands on its hind legs waiting

For the woman who feeds it

To feed it

The pony is smaller than the goat

And hands me its hoof like a paw

A Chinese scholar

Loses his way in the mountains

Imagines dinosaurs in the swaying river

Then drowns

The weeping Buddha is full of my sorrows

The belly of a young girl is slit

Her insides offered to the moon

The moon turns the other cheek

It’s tired of sacrifice

Ma Jian drinks beer in a London pub

He can never go home

The weeping Buddha stops weeping

Everything’s fed up with sacrifice

The Talking Creek Talking Magazine
Reading Ma Jian on the Farm
Read by Alexandra Leggat
Alexandra Leggat is the author of The Incomparables and a teacher of creative writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Her short story collection Animal was short-listed for the Trillium Book Award. She first contributed to the magazine in 2000. Last updated fall, 2022.