Prop a brick upright at the river's edge.
In fact, the river is the lake is the water rising.
I. Where in our hero Zhou Ji’en first hears the Godhead Mao
Zhou Ji'en is a small man;
he has a pretty wife,
two daughters. One smaller
than the next. Zhou builds a boat
because the water eats the brick.
Watching the water is the lake
is the river rise is like tracking
the all but imperceptible,
is, by degrees, mysterious.
Beetles and centipedes,
some poisonous, radiate
in swarms from the river's
edge. The insects knew
the flood was coming.
They did not know it would come
so fast. Earlier, exactly
when no one knows,
the Emperor relocated.
Zhou Ji'en stayed behind
to work the land for one
final spring and was harvesting
the last water spinach
when Mao said: I have determined
to make an end of all flesh,
the earth is filled with violence.
And Mao said:
Make yourself a boat
of cypress wood. Make rooms
in the boat and cover it
inside and out with Tung oil
for in seven days I will send
the rain-water to make the river,
the lake, the world, a sea. Mao has been dead
now twenty years so Zhou does
all that He commands.
Speak about time in an indeterminate
manner, the Emperor’s Government
had always said, but Mao,
his voice like a kettle drum,
says seven days. Already
the brick is drowning.
Zhou's possession's – an umbrella,
a pencil box and his daughter’s
schoolbooks. Zhou sits
at a table in the pumpkin patch
and copies his child’s lesson:
Rain softly comes to the peach
blossoms. The brick has vanished.
Load the furniture; Look, the water
grows dark; Hurry up! Zhou says
the way his children do
when they sense his anxiety –
arms still, eyes unblinking.
At eight-twenty, the water is
already the lake, was the river;
it reaches the television. It has rained
one day. In the hard light
of the following noon
Zhou visits the remains of the shack,
Says under his breath so Mao
cannot hear, Build a boat, He says.
Rain, He says. Making a new sea,
He says. No doubt he’s serious
so I’ve built two or three more
days. The children can’t help
but be ashamed. Their playmates
push them to the ground
in the schoolyard, chide them
with the lunacy of their father.
I tell them, ‘Track the all
but imperceptible snowmelt,
thin and white and covered
with thousands of inscriptions.’
So far this has not worked.
Later, Provincial officials
would visit the man building
the boat in the rain.
II. Where in we learn of California Beef Noodle King USA and see the machinations of the divine international bureaucracies
For now the inscriptions in the snow made Mao's heart no more
clear than the authority of Yuanfeng, the at-one-time
relocated emperor of the northern dynasty;
it’s now known that he died the year before. News of his death,
and of the new emperor, California Beef Noodle
King U.S.A, is still remote. The mysterious Noodle King
name goes downstream toward Wushan -- one hundred and twenty miles
-- creating hard farming and fast currents. California
Beef Noodle King USA provides a model essay,
a treatise: Through Me All Things Possible. The essay cites
Yuanfeng’s drawbacks - wicked relics, displaced populations
- old policies easily outweighed by better flood control,
a better supply of river-water, a lake. The essay
makes no mention of the sea. Given the fact that Government
policy bore no specific prohibitions, Zhou's idea
of building a boat in two or three more days was kept alive.
Chiang Kai-Shek was rumored to be promoting the boat concept
to the oracles. Officials from the Bureau
of Reclamation turned to the Soviet Union, to open the windows
of heaven. But the Russian advisers left after the Sino-Soviet
split: then chaos before the deluge. The era of big
Mao had passed. The World Bank refused support, but
periodically still ravaged the people’s breath of life.
The thoughts of its heart was only evil, continually.
A series of smaller engineers worried the heavy silt.
Meanwhile the river rose and Zhou's boat was precisely forty
metres higher than the White Crane Ridge, often red-cropped.
Once completed, Zhou's boat would be the largest in the world.
Whether California Beef Noodle King USA
ever heard any of this is still not known.
III. Where in the peasants of the valley take center stage and we meet the lions
The whole valley inscribed the flood. Down near the old cities and villages,
a construction frenzy. Was anything new where the water was certain
to rise? The dark settlements belonged to farmland clusters
of future. In the beginning workers appeared.
They stocked almost nothing. A half built street.
A shop selling doors and women. General market economy. Children
materialized and the old settlements died. The Government began
demolishing most residents, to purchase new villagers, entire hamlets.
Zhou's boat, in another province, was provided small allowances.
The Government provided a cop, rubble, many elderly living
in tents and lean-tos. Zhou was quite boat-drunk, I'm like a man hanging on a nail.
Peasants sold scavengers to coax one final crop from their doom gardens.
Stragglers slipped outside evolution. Communist prostitutes sat behind blue windows,
women in water up to their necks. One pulled out form after form -- a bad
investment in rich artifacts. Two lions guarded the steps leading
to the water. The lions were worn from decades. In the past Red Guards threw
the lions into the river. Years later an old man dreamed them. They searched
the river and found them in the lake. The story is strange, but true.
The water is the river is the lake rises six inches an hour,
powered by an outboard motor downstream. The river has no heart.
The brick has vanished. Water comes to life in the sky. The windows of heaven,
open. Guess how high the water would rise? Morning moves underwater wide
and still, floats upstream where the debris begins. The river's color turns green,
then green. The character of water is mesmerizing, it doesn't belong here.
It's color shifts to blue. Zhou is a water lion. His horrible boat cuts off silence.
Look at the deeper water - think of the lions, the old man's dreams.
Zhou's former nine year old girl sees the rubble, puts it into her pocket –
If I see Mao,I'll give it to him, she says. The girl grins slyly and touches
her father a day earlier than predicted. Eventually
a mixture of lime, hemp and tung oil. The tung oil gives the wood a shape,
a rough simple beauty. The boat struts. It has never touched water.
Zhou, square jawed, a righteous man, fishes the waters, walks with Mao.
The mysterious California Beef Noodle King USA is unable
to insure that everybody actually goes where they were told to go.
Despite official registrations the people are determined to find
the relocated peasants, the scarcity of families, two of every kind.
IV. Where in we meet the river’s wife, attend a wake and Zhou goes sailing
The water demolition has arrived. The river prefers his wife,
a twelve year old girl. Unlike Zhou the rising river feels no need
in the afternoon, but in the mornings when it is still, the urge is fathoms deep.
The water is about eight feet below noon tomorrow. In the city above,
smooth Mao wrote a poem familiar to the river. The new village posts the handwritten
couplet: Honorable old Man, moving new life/ Give up small home,
build new boat. Zhou's vision of prosperity features an enormous television,
crowds gathered, plastic palm trees, a coffee shop called Starbucks, haircuts,
indoor piping for bathrooms. There is sanity there. The new cities heard criticism
of the boat. Rural areas received complaints. People felt the corruption of local
party cadres but never questioned the basic idea of what hope would do.
As long as they fished, the city wouldn't last another landslide.
Why worry about it? I'll be nine-hundred fifty by then, says Zhou.
When people spoke of the future they meant tomorrow. In the deserts
of Government policy many residents noticed opposition schemes,
free market reforms, incentive to try abstract steel production. A peasant wants
a better television-set, the lack of long term expectations. Perfect,
the world dreamt by California Beef Noodle King USA, but chaos
gets its bearings in Mao's immediate desires. In the future: Monuments
of dead water. A single glass of water reaches the wooden frame boat.
A snake glides by, head like a periscope. Zhou caulks a long rowboat,
for emergency fishing he says. Tung oil and hemp. The water
is the lake is no longer a river, it touches the family, their few possessions.
There is no brick. They throw spare lumber into the stern. An inch of water
has flooded the former children in whose nostrils was the breath of life.
Zhou splashes whenever possible. Underwater somebody is selling women.
Zhou suns himself on the prow, shakes his ample mane. Mao has been quiet for days.
Out over the water there is no sound except the lap of rivulets against the boat-side.
There is a wake, but whether its of the sea, the lake or merely
of the waterlogged everything of peasants, Zhou cannot say.