the king’s courtiers harnessed their chariots

traveling a thousand miles

a vinegar wind from the eastern pass

winnowed their eyes

collecting moon shadows

to adorn the concubine’s gates

her unearthly beauty

a consuming passion

what the land requires

is another matter

what the land remembers

a ruler forgets

he may be forgiven

not just yet

six-and-thirty palaces grow

emerald earth-flowers for her bath

her youthful languor

his obsession

he seeks her perfumed skin

her ivory bed

the cold regency of her abdication