this was an actual vision/dream i had one autumn while visiting Daesa-nim some years back now. i had been guiding three South Africans around the village & up the mountain all afternoon. then i was left alone before dinner, the weather fine & my eye lids heavy, i went up to a pavillion Daesa-nim built, from which you can look down into the village below & which is parallel to Deokyu Mt. the following poem is that sleep.
it is true— an interesting coincidence or more perhaps— i am not at liberty to give a concrete explanation to the inexplicable; that is what makes it thus.
this poem has appeared here before at some point, perhaps, but i am quite fond of its imagery, which though mythic in tone, was to me at least very real, so i feel it avoids the charge of being mythological & becomes a document of an odd occurrence & so i thought to post it again.
bong hwang dae
how could i forget the day i saw a phoenix
while resting on one of the pavillions Daesa nim built.
the giant bird beak to claw in a coffin of flames,
a nuclear body snagging at the sky’s lucent blue,
gulping & belching clouds of helium & sulphur it carved around itself,
lungs like gas chambers untroubled by fumes,
it scattered sparks like particles of dust
over the furthest pine slopes of the mountain basin
each time it flapped its wings like horizontal sails.
its caw was so loud i heard glass shattering in the next town
echo through the mountain pass to where i lay
hermetically sealing my ears with finger-plugs,
apoplectic as the phoenix quickly lowered in altitude
until directly over me consuming me in its self-ignited furnace
of gaseous breath & heat— a noise stretching to the pitch
of inchoate static cackling in my brain like a Catherine Wheel.
i later told the dream to Daesa nim
of course he said, that’s the pavillion of the phoenix— bong hwang dae.