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(On glass art by Kyou-Hong Lee.
Xi-ling-shi, in 2,7000 b.c., was reportedly the first person to spin silk
Xi-ling-shi, fourteen-year old bride
of the Emperor Huang-di
walks in the garden under the mulberries.
What is eating the Emperor's trees?
Globes packed with light
hang in the dark.
He dips the blowing iron into the glare
and scoops out gold,
carries it like a flaming arrow
through the watching crowd.
Xi-ling-shi returns with her treasure to the palace.
Carelessly, whilst making tea,
she lets it drop into boiling water,
watches it swirl and unravel.
The molten gob is already beginning to sag.
He defies gravity,
turning and rolling
until it whirls out with centrifugal spin.
Xi-ling-shi admires its lustrous sheen
sparkling, apparently weightless.
Fingering the torn cocoon, Xi-ling-shi
breathes on the threads to tease them out.
Passing his lips casually over the mouth
of the iron,
(Published in 'Glass Works' (Cat's Pyjamas Publications, 2005)