214: The Barbarians Are Coming
The Barbarians Are Coming
by Marilyn Chin
War chariots thunder, horses neigh, the barbarians are coming.
What are we waiting for, young nubile women pointing at the wall,
the barbarians are coming.
They have heard about a weakened link in the wall. So, the barbarians
have ears among us.
So deceive yourself with illusions: you are only one woman, holding one
broken brick in the wall.
So deceive yourself with illusions: as if you matter, that brick and that
The barbarians are coming: they have red beards or beardless with a top
The barbarians are coming: they are your fathers, brothers, teachers, lovers;
and they are clearly an other.
The barbarians are coming:
If you call me a horse, I must be a horse.
If you call me a bison, I am equally guilty.
When a thing is true and is correctly described, one doubles the blame
by not admitting it: so, Zhuangzi, himself, was a barbarian king!
Horse, horse, bison, bison, the barbarians are coming—
and how they love to come.
The smells of the great frontier exult in them.
"The Barbarians Are Coming" by Marilyn Chin, from THE PHOENIX GONE, THE TERRACE EMPTY by Marilyn Chin, copyright © 2009 Milkweed Editions. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions.