On the Island

--based on Yami myths


1
The island is by the sea, and the sea by the island
Our island is a tiny, motionless ship


Tsunami turned the ship into a cradle
The waves dashed toward the mountaintop, splitting the giant rock
Out of the rock I popped
I am man, I am Tau
I am a man


Tsunami turned the ship into a cradle
The waves tumbled over reefs, splitting bamboo woods
Out of the bamboo I popped
I am man, I am Tau
I am a man


We were the first two on board
We were men having no women to love and
loved by no women


We rested on the ship, slept on the ship
On the knees we twined our exceedingly long penises


We gently swung our knees, sleeping foot to foot
Our knees touched comfortably, getting all the itchier with every touch


We scratched each other thoughtfully
With each scratch came a greater itch
until a man burst out of my right knee
(oh Tau, a man)
until a woman burst out of my left knee
(oh Tau, a man)


They are the Taus
Fulfillment of love between two men


2
The island is by the sea, and the sea by the island
Our island is a tiny, motionless ship
But Mama, our sky is so low
Our deck is so high
That fire ball, with wide open eyes
is hanging above our heads, burning hot


Please ask the next-door Uncle Giant to stretch his arms and legs
kicking the ground down, and upholding the sky
I will use my fish-spearing lance
to shoot blind one eye of the two-eyed fire ball, thus dividing it
into two: the half hanging in the sky will be
the sun, and the other half left to the night to accompany us in sleep
will be the moon


Behold, the moon is risen
So gentle is it, like
a bashful lily
From the depth of the evening sky, my lance slowly drops back
The fish I speared yesterday clings to the sky
becoming a milky way


Translator's note: The Yami (also called the Tau) tribe are aboriginal people of Taiwan living on the Orchid Island, which lies to the southeast of the island of Taiwan. "Tau" means "man" in the Yami language.