The Fancy Maoist Tieniu at the Monument of the People
by Birgit Linder
Met him on bus #34 in the Imperial City. He commanded me for giving up my seat to the old chap in rags. Nice of you to walk me to the Square. Right across from the Palace Museum. Your smile almost matches the benign Chairman’s, looking down from the Forbidden City in ephemeral hues.
Not once did I wish to add my name on the heroic pillar.
Not even next to the Museum of Revolutionary History.
You, on the other hand, started carving your own name with voracity.
The dead Mao’ halo glowing from the Mausoleum behind.
Oh, you cut yourself.
See the pool of blood budding?
Monument of the People.
Now what? The name is not finished. Two more characters, fourteen tedious strokes.
While everyone hustles to prepare for National Day, you must decide:
Save yourself or save your name.
On the grounds of linear histories, communist capitalism, opportune traditions, mass movements, and the birth of the ‘New Man,’ what will you do?
What’s the difference? For you, I don’t know.
But I have never been this curious in my life.
Birgit Linder is German, but lives in Hong Kong. She is a professor of Chinese, and works for an Asian higher education NGO. She travels a lot in Asia. Birgit has published poetry in Mad Poets. She has many other academic publications in the fields of Chinese and comparative literature, comparative poetry, cultural studies, classical Chinese literature, cultural geography, and gender and literature. Her research and writing focus is on concepts and representations of madness and mental illness in Chinese (Asian) culture and literature.