Betel Nut Hut

Su Shih had to write a memorial to the emperor to report his arrival at Hainan Island and thank His Majesty for sending him there; he wrote about living in the betel nut field he called Betel Nut Hut. Later he also built five little huts in another betel nut field after he was kicked out of the government coach station.

Hut in betel nut grove

“There were big trees
scattered in the betel nut field,
tree trunks were sturdy and solid
like hundreds of stone pillars.
Leaves of betel nut were so dense,
like thousands and thousands of
cloth tiles hanging down.
The sky, our blanket; earth, our bed.
Lifting our heads, we could see
the sun and moon.
Wind and rain swept our home clean.
Sea breeze and mist of miasma set in,
breathing in and out freely
without obstruction.
No walls, no doors.
Snakes,rodents and monsters
could come in and out without any boundaries,
coming and going as they please.
They treated this place as home;
we got along with them
like our houseboys.
We were originally one
with the vast earth,
Heaven Father carved out nine continents.
As long as our body and mind exist,
it is where our home is.
I am a Buddhist practitioner,
lying peacefully in the betel nut field,
my place of practice and lodging.
I let go of everything
and don’t know what dusty world is…………..
I have no more dealings with dusty world,
doing nothing
and not bounded by anything.
I have no lacks
nor do I have any leftovers.
This is my lodging while alive
and burial site when dead.
I have served in officialdom
for thirty six years,
I can only fantasize infinitely
in this undeveloped world.”