Henry Holt & Co., Book of the Month Club 1991

Fawcett (paperback) 1992

Mondadori (Italy) 1992

Centrum (Denmark) 1992 


five beginnings from BRONZE MIRROR

        Suppose you came across an antique Chinese mirror, a silvery disk of tin-rich bronze. Suppose you picked it up…

*

        Long, long ago, beyond the spinning out of time, horse-headed silkworms cast twin filaments around themselves. Each one loops the gleaming fibers in an endless figure eight that lazes on its side. Then each one sleeps within and dreams of the form it means to take when it awakens…

*

        A flowering pomegranate shrub, purplish red with fifth-month bloom: that’s the first thing I see when I step, cautious for once, into the outer courtyard of my new home.

        Uncle taps my shoulder. "A good sign for you, eh, Pomegranate?"

        I nod, and hope he’s right. All day, as we walked to the Su family’s summer villa, I’ve wondered what life away from busy Lin-an would be like…

*

        "Well done, my dear! A lovely story, even if somewhat incomplete." The Yellow Emperor strokes his long, sparse beard and nods.

        The Silkweb Empress, still hazy-eyed, stands beside the painting of a flowering pomegranate from which she’s spun her tale for the assembled court. She bends her neck in frosty acknowledgment. Her husband hurries on.

        "And now," he says…

*

        In the last days of the great Han dynasty, there lived in the city of Yueh a skilled but impoverished metalworker named Liang Ming who loved but two things in all the world: his only child, a daughter, and a beautiful pomegranate shrub…


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