Sun Shooting: An Other Beginning by Yuan Changming

—Ancient Chinese myth has it that the world has ten suns to begin with...

Origin of Suns

They are sons of God of Heavens

Each with an all-faced body, a heart

Where dwells a three-legged golden crow

Always playing, lolling and wallowing

As wild as so many bears bursting with fire

In the heavenly river of stars

Until one day they go crazy, all jumping high

In the sky, refusing to return home

Even to take a break at night

First Shooting

To save his tribesmen

Hou Yi shot down

The biggest sun

With his renowned red bow and white arrow

Yet little happened:

Given nine suns still wantoning

In the front yard of heaven

The whole earth was burning with dry heat

Like the living room of hell

Drought in the plains

Fires on the mountains

All men and women fled

Hiding themselves deep in cool caves

But there stared a butterfly effect of hope

Sweeping through the human minds

Second Shooting

Using only one other arrow

thicker, longer, whiter

Hou Yi shot down three suns

No sooner had the souls of

The three-legged gold crows

Drifted out of their bodies

Than night began to fall from nowhere

Although not so dark

Not so long

Not so cold yet

Third Shooting

At an unseen moment of glaring spot

With his enormous five-arrowed bow

(Newly made by the five most powerful tribes

From the five-colored rocks

Left over by Nuwa after the Creator finished mending the sky)

Hou Yi squatted straight

Aimed high

And shot down

All the other remaining suns

Except the brightest, the most handsome one

He left for the human world

To disperse earthly shadows

Ever since then, even Nuwa does not know

Why Kua Fu has been running

After the sun, Xi He’s only son

In an endless and tireless pursuit

From his tribal home near the Wei Lake

To the Yellow River (whose water

Fails to quench his thirst), flowing down

Right from Heaven to the distant wasteland

Beyond the North Sea, where he never means to go


Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from Credits include Pushcart nominations and publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & Best New Poems Online, among others. In 2021, Yuan served on the jury for Canada's 44th National Magazine Awards (poetry category).

Author's note

"Sun Shooting: An Other Beginning" is an attempt of mine to introduce cultural Chineseness to non-Chinese readers, which actually anticipate my more recent and popular invention of what I now call "bilinguaculatural poetry".