By Su Tong, Howard Goldblatt
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Additional info for Binu and The Great Wall: The Myth of Meng
When she removed her shoes, she discovered that her toes were shedding tears as well, that they too had learned how to cry. Now that Qiliang was gone, the silkworm shed seemed emptier than usual. Binu dumped the leaves into the silkworm pen, wetting it in the process. Worms that had not yet ‘climbed the mountain’ scuttled out from under the covering, refusing to eat tear-soaked leaves. Overnight, many of the silkworms had climbed up onto hemp racks that Qiliang had made, but they stopped spinning silk, disappointed with the last basket of mulberry leaves their patron had picked, and longing for the life-giving promise of the spring baskets.
Holding the gourd to her bosom, Binu took a turn around the willow tree. Towards the east, she saw a hillside covered with some waterlogged locust trees. Off to the west, she saw higher ground and an old juniper tree, the tips of its high branches ringed with an auspicious sunset. But someone had set loose a small herd of goats to graze there and, even if she drove them away, it was not the right spot; the villagers could find her too easily. ’ she cried. Finally, she abandoned the search for the ideal burial spot of her imagination and, looking morose, turned her attention to the willow tree.
Was it in fact a reincarnation of the blind woman? All the women in Blue Cloud Prefecture had had previous lives, and some of those had come from the water. Wang Jie’s voiceless mother, at one time an aromatic calamus, crawled down into a calamus thicket just before she died, and when Wang Jie ran up to the riverbank, his mother was nowhere to be seen. He could not tell which calamus plant was his transformed mother, so each year at Qingming, the day for sweeping graves, he went down to the river and performed the rites for all the calamus there.