#53. Yellow Dragon Turns Body

This poem is #53. Yellow Dragon Turns Body in my book Ride Backwards on Dragon: a poet’s journey through Liuhebafa.

According to Five Element Theory (see move #14), this penultimate dragon of Liuhebafa represents the spleen by virtue of its colour. Consequently, this dragon’s element is earth, and its compass position is centre. The attributes of the spleen are fairness, clear-sightedness, and clarity of thought. I interpret this as the ability to stand back and see the entire forest. A deficiency in spleen energy can manifest as worry (the confusion of being lost among the trees). Because of its centre position in Five Element Theory, the spleen (or Yellow Woman) is considered to be the mediator of conflicting energies within the body, uniting east and west, north and south, achieving the necessary balance so that alchemical transformations can occur.

When yellow dragon turns body, we are literally moving the spleen, thus stimulating its energy. And indeed this particular move involves a considerable twist of the torso, shifting the ribs, fascia, and abdomen near the spleen. I have always had a particular fondness for this dragon. According to legend, the yellow dragon emerged from the River Lo to present the elements of writing to Emperor Fu Hsi in prehistoric China.

Nanaimo (the town I have lived in for nearly 35 years) has a rich coal-mining history. The city was founded on coal and the coal-mining industry, beginning here in the mid-1800’s. Many of the mineworkers were Chinese immigrants who came to Canada’s Pacific coast in search of a better life and work on the railroads and coalmines. They did so with the hope of earning enough money to someday bring their families here as well. While the white/European miners were recorded in company payroll documents by their full names, the Chinese mineworkers were merely assigned numerals in the company records, revealing another dark piece of our cultural history.

In the great Nanaimo mine explosion of 1887 (the worst disaster in Nanaimo’s long history of industrial accidents in the mines), 148 miners were killed including 53 Chinese miners.

There will be a memorial gathering tomorrow (Saturday, May 7) from 1-3 pm in memory of the 148 men who lost their lives in the 1887 explosion. The gathering will take place at the old entrance to the Number One Mine, located at the base of Milton Street and Esplanade (near the south end of the CPR railyard along the waterfront). A memorial kiosk is now located at the site with information about the explosion and a list of names of all the white/European coalminers who lost their lives, and the numerals of the 53 Chinese workers who died in the explosion.

Music: Trinitude
Snacks: South End Community Association
Speakers: Roger Stonebanks, author of the Ginger Goodwin book
and Muriel MacKay-Ross, native daughter of Nanaimo

Everyone is welcome to attend. People may wish to bring a single flower to lay in remembrance of the 148 lives lost.

Text and images (c) Kim Goldberg

About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is an award-winning poet and journalist and the author of 7 books. Latest titles: UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact: goldberg@ncf.ca
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