My Chinese Astrology
I am Metal.
I am a Rat.
I am a Metal Rat.
As if being a Scorpio in
Western astrology isn’t enough,
yes, you heard me right,
I am a Metal Rat.
Why can’t I be a nice animal,
like a loveable loyal heroic dog
or a cute fluffy kind and tender rabbit?
Why am I all these things
that are dark and hard?
Rats live in the shadows,
maneuvering after midnight,
plotting, scheming, contriving,
Finessing this deep-seated beguilement
like hard lessons or spells of
such witchery is rarely confessed
by the secretive rat— or so they say.
Do you know the secrets?
You know the lore:
it depends, it all depends
on what type of Rat it is,
a Metal Rat,
a Water Rat,
a Wood Rat,
a Fire Rat,
or an Earth Rat.
Yet, they are all Rats.
Some legends claim,
and some legends don’t,
that we Rats are misunderstood.
Don’t misjudge us--
or at least not all of us.
We know you think of us
good-for-nothing rogues and sneaks,
snitches and traitors,
with a heart, yes,
but of betrayal,
the way they say
a Scorpio keeps score.
This is not the truth,
or at least not the whole truth—
rats tell you nothing but the truth
at least half the time.
The other half they mean to
just save you some trouble.
Being secretive is not always the same as lying.
And Rats will always keep your secrets,
even when you don't keep ours.
We don’t live alone
like the lonely Dragon.
We don’t set afire
all we love to burn.
We are social creatures,
enjoying the night life when we can,
but still, many like staying home
writing metallic poems,
sitting still at desks instead of gliding airily
around the silver wooden dance floor,
with the watery glowing lights
or the stillness in playing detective,
in night's stillness detecting dreams,
bejeweled bedazzling meanings
in the labrinthes under
pillows and streets.
Excuse me for speaking ill of the Dragon.
Truly, Rats and Dragons get along.
I manipulated my words in this poem,
momentarily manipulated the truth,
just to make a point in a way that felt fun.
I guess not fun for everyone,
I guess not for the Dragons.
We all have a bit of the Dragon in us,
we all have a bit of the Rat--
we all have bits and pieces in
us of all things, both positive and negative.
There are a lot of good things about both
fiery orange Dragons and Rats with translucent red eyes.
Now if I were a Dragon, I could be Fire
(but I already am as
the Scorpio is known as Phoenix),
and that, the alchemical gold.
Some do say the Metal the Rat is is Gold.
So if I were as Dragon,
I could fly breathing fire instead
of being the Gold that the Dragon
seeks and keeps in its cave,
I would never have to melt
a little each time it roars.
But whereas the Rat is used to dark,
can see in the dark,
can find its way in the dark to where
it can finally rest, sleep at the light
at the long end of the tunnel come dawn,
So come down.
In your altitude and your attitude.
Don’t look for me always in the dark,
but look for me, us Rats
also in all the golden and metallic hues
in earth and water and sky,
including things that shine in the dark.
Most don’t notice.
They don’t notice that,
and don’t notice us,
we being underfoot
and in fields in tall golden grasses
or grasses by sheds in backyards,
in grasses and tall wildflowers
of the rivers, streams, and lagoons,
creaking or sleeping by the creeks
and in woodpiles
and under fallen trees and branches.
Enhancement of details is one of our gifts,
such as among the dandelions,
lifting others’ spirits to the heights
of wishes we can’t go.
So why is it the Emperor
chose the Rat as one of twelve
animals in the Chinese zodiac?
Because, to be fair, as an Emperor has to be,
he had to invite ALL the animals,
but there are only twelve yearly cycles
of the year to each be represented.
So the Emperor held a race
and the first twelve to finish would win.
And among the dandelions
along the path to the finish,
Rat won one of the twelve spots.
Legend also has it that the Rat cheated.
We are not all like that.