The Two Kingdoms Woman
by James Beamon
Listen, Chiang Jiang, as I speak my life poem. Upon these words I wrap deeper spells, in the tao
shown to me by Zhuge Kongming when he unveiled the mysteries of the Book of Changes, the
divinations and secrets of I Ching. Seven is sacred, the auspicious number of togetherness, and
so I hereby distill the many people I've met, the innumerable places I have seen to this counted
few. Seven are the names I will divulge to you, mighty river, to bind them to your waters. I will
couple these names with seven sites, places forever rooted though the boundaries of the Three
Kingdoms will surely change. May you carry their meaning and memory forever.
A brat and a fool is Sun Renxian. Once so proud of her bloodline, she boasted her heritage to
visiting dignitaries. "Sun Renxian, daughter of Sun Jian, son of Sun Zhong!" and so on, inviting
the dignitary to listen as she traced her family line back seven centuries to the Spring and
Summer Period and the great Sun Tzu. As a maiden she practiced wushu daily, learning five
Southern styles, becoming skilled with the single-edge dao sword and double-edged jian. She
was fierce in combat, even fiercer in her arrogance. Now, Renxian is tired. Pride has drained
from her as water through a sieve. She seeks to restore her qi.
She is I, this woman dressed in her grandest silk, whose make-up runs, and presently sits on your
banks to share with you her life poem.
My older brother's smile warms the room as his decrees cut the heart. He is revered as King of
Eastern Wu, Holder of the Nine Bestowments. To me, he is simply Zhongmou, left to rule when
our father fell in battle and our older brother succumbed to an assassin's arrow nine years later.
Zhongmou was only eighteen at the time, and I sixteen. I remember him holding me as I cried
into his shoulder even as his own body racked with sobs.
Zhongmou's strength lay in listening and in knowing he could not do everything alone. He chose
excellent advisors, many smart, dutiful men whom I cannot name because I promised to speak
only seven. Now Zhongmou is forty-three, and Wu has grown strong under his hand. His eyes
sparkle like jade, signal lanterns of the fire that fills him.
What else can be said of my brother? I loved him, then hated him.