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Poetry by Eight Chinese Women Poets,
               translated by Eleanor Goodman



 
Wang Xiaoni



Seen in September


1.  River leaping like innumerable beasts

Who was it who shot forth a long flame
who splashed anger headlong onto the water?

The silken coat split
and at last white bones broke through the quiet flesh.
The beasts grew excited and leapt up,
the ones in front escaping, the ones in back giving chase.

This man with flowing whitecaps for a body
will crash down how many roads of revenge?
Hatred flips inside out
whiter the farther it runs.
Even a river can get this angry.

Silence pressed hard on the four feet of heaven and earth
and the mountains shrank with fright.
Shamefully I didn’t dare approach it again
afraid of being infected by the river
so I just watched the enraged hungry creature
howling toward the lowlands.


2.  White horse passing like a dove

Like an unfledged dove
who has never been a messenger, nor held an olive branch in its mouth
or like a young flier who’s never made a mistake.
A kind of buoyancy people can’t comprehend
suddenly appearing before the eyes.

The smell of the grass with the smell of running
give off a slight warmth
and I turn my head to brush its angular face.
Two people would never get this close.
A tail trails in the wind
the mane covered with cockleburs and figs
dressed up to look so natural.

Serene as a large creature
innocent as a small creature.
White horses don’t learn to speak
there’s nothing to say.
They pass soundlessly like this
or rise to pull along a pulse of light.


3. Women crossing the road like chaotic clouds

From behind the window I see women flying by.

Some love roads too much.
From east to west
from having nothing to having everything
they invent the smallest miracles.
The world fills up.

Money floats note by note
and more voluminous things come into their hands
satisfaction comes too easily.
All of this casually crosses the road
the wind whirls into fragrance
lost and rushing east and west.

Such an eye-pleasing mural
a colorful mosaic cobbled into woman-clouds crossing the road
their hands can’t be empty, their hearts can’t be calm
best to choose them to embellish this sort of era.

But when I go they disappear
leaving behind an empty street of flashing signs.
Some say before we had nothing
now we have it all.


4. Multicolored field like an eagle taking flight

In the field to the west
yellow-earth houses and green-leafed cabbage
the potato-digger wears dark green waders
an enormous field fluttering itself into flight
hanging gently on the edge of the sky.

Now I’m fairly satisfied
the gods now live up there
and the sky no longer seems as empty.

No one has to be up in the sky
but there must be those who earnestly arrive on earth.
Sleeping truths huddle in empty eagles’ nests.
I’m just surprised by the colorful field
and its grace
not even needing wings
just tilting slightly to take off in flight.

Things will be fine when you all fly away
and fill the sky like a yellow-lit grocery store.
There’ll be less left to deal with
taking a look around
I think I’ll give hell a thorough cleaning.




九月所见

王小妮


一,窜动如无数猛兽的河

是谁发出一条长火
谁把气愤迎头泼在那水上。

滑软的外衣破了
白骨头终于挣脱出安静的肉。
猛兽都激动了都跳起来
前面在逃后面在追赶。

这个没有了身体只剩白浪滔滔的人
要撞出多少条寻仇的路。
仇恨全身翻开
气势越跑越白。
连一条河都会这么愤怒。

寂静压紧天地的四脚
山吓得很小。
我惭愧我不敢再向它走近
我怕被一条河感染
就看着它这么疯龙饿虎
吼叫啊奔向低处。


二,白马正像鸽子一样经过

像未成年的鸽子
没做过信使没衔过橄榄枝
像没犯过一次错误的小飞行者。
是人间不理解的那种轻
突然就到了眼前。

草沫的气味加上跑的气味
微微有点暖和
我回头就碰到它多棱角的脸。
人和人不会走到这么近。
尾巴正好和着风
鬃毛挂满苍耳子挂满无花果
它打扮得太自然了。

像大动物那么从容
小动物那么单纯。
白色的马都不学说话
没什么可说的。
或者全无声响像这样过去
或者起身带动着一束光奔跑。


三,女人们一团乱云过马路

隔着玻璃窗我看见女人飞渡。

有人太热爱马路了。
从东到西
从没有到什么都有
她们把最小的奇迹变出来。
世界给弄得很满。

纸币一张张飘
体积更大的东西来到她们手上
满足来得太容易了。
所有这些再悠悠地过马路
风也转得香了
忽东忽西找不准路。

多么养眼的一幅壁画
彩色马赛克拼起过街的女云彩
手不能空着心不能安静
最好选她们雕饰这种年代。

可是我离开她们也不见了
留下空空的招牌闪烁的街道。
有人说过去什么也没有
现在什么都有了。

四,色彩斑斓的田野像鹰飞起来

西边那片田野
黄泥的房屋青皮的白菜
挖土豆的人穿着油绿的水靴
那么大的一片它自己翩翩飞了
淡淡的挂在天的侧壁。

现在我有点满意
神仙们全住上去了
天空才不像从前那么空。

没有谁必须在天上
但是要有人老老实实落地。
道理们缩进鹰的空巢里睡觉。
我只是惊奇花花绿绿的田野
原来那么轻盈
连翅膀都不需要
微微倾斜一下就飞起来。

你们都飞了才好
把天空塞成一盏黄灯的杂货店才好。
剩下的就省力了
看看左右
我正要彻底打扫一下地狱。

 



Zheng Xiaoqiong



Young Prostitutes

They sit there cracking sunflower seeds in their teeth   playing mahjongg
beside the spicy soup vender’s cart
their delicate fingernails are covered with nail polish   wearing
silver jewelry or mala beads   their naked arms
are printed with butterfly patterns      black low-slung shorts
rein in their rear ends’ passion   blue eye-shadow
shows disdain and confusion for life   or
they sit absently in doorways talking    sometimes I pass by
their doors   and see their painted pale
faces   seductive faces   like cities or countries
decked out in tall buildings   there’s no way to peek beneath the rouge
at their paleness and fragility    their beautiful clothes
hide diseased bodies and souls
for these many years   I’ve passed by the administrative center
prosperity all around it    behind it are the slums
and struggling citizens…and so
I live in constant anxiety



年轻妓女
她们坐在那里嗑瓜子 打麻将
站在流动小贩的麻辣烫车旁边
纤细的手指涂满了指甲油 带着
银饰品或者佛珠 祼着的手臂上
印着蝴蝶的花纹 黑色低腰短裤
将臀部的欲望勒出 蓝色的眼影
有对尘世的不屑与迷茫 或者
茫然地坐在门口谈论 有时我经过
她们的门口 看见她们涂得苍白的
脸 诱惑的脸 有如被高楼打扮的
城市或者国家 无法窥探出胭脂底下
苍白与孱弱 她们艳丽的服饰下
掩藏着疾病的躯体与灵魂
这么多年 我经过行政中心
面对四周的繁华 背后是贫民区与
挣扎中的人民……这些
让我活在深深的担忧之中


 
Conversation

History is suctioned out, fabricated stories and fragments are put in its place
the confessions that we want are collected by the moonlight, in autumn
the villages on the plains have no scenery, like history’s severity
these heavy truths, philosophy, art torment me
the train is passing by tiny dots of towns and plains
outside the window is 3am and a few scattered stars
people wander through the dreams of others
time doesn’t make a sound, it is mysterious, reticent
in this swaying distant place, I think
of those many faces worn down by history, they
leave behind a few fragments, like sparks flashing
in the wilderness, illuminating a frigid falsified history



交谈
历史被抽空,安置上虚构的情节与片段
我们想要的忏悔被月光收藏,在秋天
平原的村庄没有风景,像历史般冷峻
那么浩繁的真理,哲学,艺术哲磨着我
火车正驰过星星点点的镇子与平原
车窗外,凌晨三点与稀疏的星辰
一些人正走另外一些人的梦中
时间没有动静,它神秘而缄默
在摇晃不定的远方,我想起
那么多被历史磨损的面孔,他们
留下那么点点的碎片,像在旷野
闪忽着的火花,照亮冰冷的被篡改的历史




 
Ye Mei



Early Morning

Early in the morning, the guards downstairs switch shifts,
car after car heads toward the gates of the neighborhood,
and I hear the sound of the government worker next door locking his door.
His leather shoes click down the hallway like a woman’s heels,
as the band downstairs begins to practice.
The elevator takes the dog-walkers down,
and there’s always the sound of a child crying somewhere.
I wait for the crying to stop
and open a window that faces toward the sea.



清晨


清晨,楼下的保安开始换班了,
一辆辆车正在陆续地驶离小区门口,
这时我听见了隔壁的公务员锁门的声响,
他的皮鞋在走廊里发出像女人高跟鞋的咯咯声,
楼下的乐队开始排练乐器
电梯载着遛狗的人下降,
这时总会传来孩子的哭声
我在等,那哭声的结束
也打开一扇开向海面的窗户。

 

Copy Shop at Night

When I walk in, the little boy is playing with a stool,
not in last year’s stroller,
but intent on using all his weight to climb.
His mother is making photocopies, his father is printing lotto tickets,
and the heat rolls in from outside in waves,
while the copier in the corner spits out reams of white paper
as though the night has a weary godlike customer.



夜晚的复印店

我走进去,小男孩和一只板凳在玩,
他不在去年的婴儿车里,
他使用全部身体重量一心要爬上去。
他的母亲在复印,父亲打彩票,
门外的热浪涌进来,
角落的打印机,吞吐着一沓沓白纸
像是夜晚有一个疲倦的上帝。

 




Xi Wa



Hole in the Heart

There’s a hole in my heart
that started out very small
so small I couldn’t feel it
but it was there

It grew larger and larger
until I could feel
that it’s there
but couldn’t tell exactly where it is

This afternoon
I can feel it
and see it
and I use music, movies, poetry
even despair and boredom
to fill it
it’s so big and so deep
I give it an afternoon
then another afternoon of crying
but nothing fills it up

I don’t know what
it needs



《内心的洞》
 
我内心有个洞
起初它很小
小到我觉察不到
但,它在
 
它越变越大
大的让我感觉到
它在
但我看不见它的具体位置
 
直到这个下午
我感到它
看到它
我用音乐,电影,诗歌
甚至绝望和无聊
一起去填补它
它是这么深,这么大
我加了一个下午
再加一个下午的哭声
都没填饱它
 
我不知道它
需要什么



Heron

You extend your long neck
standing on one foot in the frigid water
behind you are salt flats as far as the eye can see

Motionless
the line of your body ramrod straight
your stippled shadow
in the setting sun, on the iridescent ripples

No one knows what you wait for, but you wait
you don’t know what you wait for, but you wait
you don’t know what there is to wait for, but you wait
you wait wretched and alone, but still you wait

Heron, you have unbending conviction
heron, you’ve waited yourself into a symbol
you forget you’re a bird, yet you’ve waited yourself into a bird

I’ve come a long way to stare at you foolishly
like a fish beaten to the shore by waves, gasping for breath
and revealing the self that’s been hidden for years

“Eat me up, old heron! Make it end!”



《老等》
 
你伸着长长的脖子
一只脚独立在冰冷的水里
你的身后是一望无边的盐碱地
你的前方是茫茫的水域
 
你一动不动
把身线拉的笔直
黑白相间的影子
在夕阳之中,在碧波之上
 
没有人知道你在等什么,而你在等
你自己也不知自己在等什么,而你在等
你不在乎能等到什么,而你在等
你不惜把自己等的孤苦伶仃,你还在等
 
你有绷直的信念——老等
你已经把自己等成一个符号——老等
你忘了自己是一只鸟,而你把自己等成了一只鸟
 
远道而来的我,憨痴痴的望着你
我像被水浪拍打至岸滩的鱼,喘息中
暴露了自己掩盖多年的心迹——
 
“吃掉我吧,老等;结束吧,老等!”
 


 
 
Huang Qian



Death Leaves Us

Then three days later, death leaves us
the sun is like a docile bull
standing solidly in the arena of hunger
the young man who once stroked the forest of your spirit
now walks down the noisy avenue
hearing vesper bells, freed from
worry and exhaustion of another day
someone else far away uses a sharp kitchen knife
to slice ginger thin, tossing them into clear
oil, frying them into elegant pungent flowers
for the unstoppable flywheel of life
someone else is on a humid green island
protecting herself from two dejected threads with her eyebrows
singing and playing a mallow-colored three-stringed lute
why does grief make a show of being busy
why does celebration have no tears
after three days, the news of a death leaves with the monsoon
slender nerves and a weak chest
hurry on a forgiving spring rain over the Old World
buried seeds toss and turn trying to sleep
how can the surging dense growth
break through locked taboos and life’s gates
words crawl in panic, losing their sequence
the living resist themselves by writing—
and the young man who once explored your dark depths
is old now
after this, love will be a silent love
and loneliness will be a complete loneliness



死亡离我们而去


三天后,死亡离我们而去
阳光像一头温顺的公牛
稳稳地站在饥饿的广场上
那个曾抚触过你灵魂茂林的年轻人
此刻正走下喧嚣的大街
听晚祷的钟声,解脱了
苦恼而疲惫的又一天
另一个人在万里之外,用锋锐的厨刀
切下薄薄的姜片,扔进清澈的
油锅里炸开,为不能停顿的生活的飞轮
溅出挺秀的辛辣之花
另一个人在湿润、绿色的小岛
用眉头护住两根忧郁的细线
抱着锦葵色的三弦琴呜呜弹唱
为什么悲哀却故作繁忙
为什么欢庆却没有泪水
三天后,死亡的消息随季风而去
纤细的神经和柔弱的胸膛
抓紧洒向旧大陆的宽恕的春雨
深埋地下的种子辗转难眠
怎样澎湃和繁密的生长
能冲破锁闭的禁忌和生命之门
词语慌慌地爬行,隐隐地失序
活着的人以写作抵抗自身——
那个曾试探过你晦暗深度的年轻人
如今已成老年
从此之后,爱将是更沉默的爱
孤寂是更完整的孤寂



from Conversation

    He doesn’t make aesthetic mistakes
                                                 ——Marianne Moore

1.

All the suppers you’ve tasted
all the knives grown from your hands
all the scorching limbs soaked in spring waters
are peach blossoms, stones, flames, children

all the stones opening in petals
all the shadows hatching shadows
all the spirits in silent revelation and sports matches
are peach blooms, nighttime, flames, children

all the flames on the prow of early summer
all of play-acted nature
all of the trembling crystal in crystalline eyes
are peach blossoms, nighttime, sickness, children

all the peach blossoms’ hunting-ground of thought
all the touched and kissed
all the intentions that harbor angles and tears
are loneliness, nighttime, illness, children

all futures that have not yet been born in the past
all losses that have not yet been achieved in achievement
all the other shores that cannot be reached by walking
are loneliness, nighttime, poetry, children



对话

He doesn’t make aesthetic mistakes.
                                        ——Marianne Moore

1

一切晚餐你品尝过的
一切利刃生长在你的手掌上
一切泉水浸泡灼热的肢体
都是桃花、石头、火焰、孩子

一切石头一瓣瓣打开
一切阴影孵化阴影
一切众神在静穆里显现和竞技
都是桃花、黑夜、火焰、孩子

一切火焰在初夏船头上
一切天然被矫饰表演
一切水晶眼里晶体的颤栗
都是桃花、黑夜、疾病、孩子

一切桃花思维的猎场
一切触摸被亲吻过的
一切意图包藏犄角和泪水
都是孤独、黑夜、疾病、孩子

一切未来尚未在过去出生
一切丧失尚未在获得里获得
一切行走无法到达彼岸
都是孤独、黑夜、诗歌、孩子


 


Fan Xue



After “Falling Plums”

I miss it, the intense love between danger and adults
every inch of a gaze contains an enormous world, so where do you place your lives
the men look, the women ask, how long should we get the room
from restaurant to stairs to bathroom, stripping is putting up a weapon of devotion
to protect someone, hoping that lovers can still
collapse from passion day and night, waking, improving, loving all
the faint boundaries of this life
inside of you is me, inside of me is the effort of my journey



仿摽有梅



太想念,激烈之爱在危险和成人之间
每寸目光下有一个大世界,你们怎么安置人生
他们在看,她们在问,开几个小时房
从饭馆到楼梯到浴室,散开衣衫就是架起一往情深的武器
保护了谁,愿有情人也能朝朝暮暮
在热烈里崩溃,醒来,琢磨,博爱
尘世边界恍惚
你中有我,我中是我一路走来的努力



Hush

Remembering a trip to Cambodia,
the first thing that comes to mind is a Cambodian nightclub.
The Chinese kids there got the highest
throwing US dollars around, luring the blond boys and girls
while the Cambodian kids gathered outside the nightclub,
vying to take the blissful foreigners back to their hotels,
cheating and swindling, dollars were what made them blissful.

In that small town, the best territory had
hotels, massage parlors, restaurants and bars,
I strolled along the riverbank that traversed streets,
but couldn’t open my heart up to the foreign country’s flavor,
and now I don’t know how it didn’t meet my expectations.

The tourist area peddled things from the Khmer Rouge.
Our secret history with them
will seemingly never be forgotten by observers,
written about in books, handled as a research topic,
and it’s said it might even be recreated as a theme park.
A theme park! The heroes are hazy and limitless.

On the tour bus, I passed the poverty-stricken lives of the locals.
Of course I didn’t think life in the slums offers its own unique happiness.
I tried to think about the origins of inequality.
I approached them, and a six year old girl talked to me,
wanting me to have a dance with her snake,
asking me for a dollar in Chinese.

Ah, forget it,
that big question mark of the 1930s is still there today,
depressed, I felt the pounding downpour,
as I chugged along in a pedicab
at night, light from the sheds illuminating just slivers of the ground.





在回忆高棉旅程时,
最先被唤起的竟是柬埔寨的夜店。
中国青年全场最HIGH
大方付出美金,大方引诱金发男女。
夜店外聚集着柬国青年,
争夺着把畅快了的外国人送回旅店,
坑蒙诈骗,US dollar是他们的畅快。

这座小城,最好的土地是
旅店、按摩院、饭店和酒吧,
我溜达在这穿街的河畔上,
即不能敞开心营造异国风情,
也想不起诅咒它的不争气。

旅游区贩卖红色高棉的一些事。
我们和他们的一些秘史,
似乎永远不能被观众遗忘,
被写成书,被处理成学术,
据言还有可能改建为主题乐园。
主题乐园啊!主角们昏昏然茫无涯际。

坐在旅行车上,我路过当地人们的贫苦生活。
我当然不认为棚户生活有独特的乐。
我努力思索着不平等的根源。
我走近他们,一个六七岁的小女孩回应了我,
希望我与她的蛇共舞,
用中文向我要一元美金。

啊,不要说了罢,
1930年代大画了问号直到今天,
我怅然若失感觉到大雨正倾盆下落,
坐在突突前行的三轮车上
黑夜里,车棚的灯只照清片大的地方。
 




Liu Liduo



Love Poem

The burst of rain whips like wind!
Her face burns with fever

A molar pregnancy in the belly, that dark blue imprint
a scar lightened to yellow

a heart-sick night.

Subjective death, an amusement that swoops in
your face shows imaginary surprise

It’s a wonderful instant, tossing your hair over your face 
in an instant beauty withers
dim eyes bloom after a thousand glances
and you’re not you anymore, writing your name on trembling pupils. 



情诗

这一瞬儿的雨啊,就像风一样!
她的面孔在发烧

那胸口的葡萄胎,那暗蓝色的印记
那变成浅黄的伤痕,

伤感的一夜。

那臆想中的死,飞来了逗趣
你的面孔有想象中的惊异

这一瞬间多好,把长发掉落在你面前
这一瞬间红颜枯槁
看了一万次的眼花开放
你不再是你,在抖动的瞳仁上写你的名字。



Lake Rome

No one has ever died in this lake
and so the lake isn’t complete

No poets have died at the lake bottom
the waterweeds have never wound round a poet’s waist

No blood has flowed from genitals
all that flows is waterweeds

There is only a pattern made from branches
and garlands thrown into the deep water

I’ve never been to Lake Rome
I’ve only seen “Roman Holiday”

Those endlessly shifting short and long tresses
emerge among the floating waterweeds

And red and purple lips surround
your penis in the water’s depths



罗马湖


没有人曾在这湖中死
因此这湖是不完整的

湖底没有死过诗人
水草没有缠绕过诗人的腰身

没有血从下部流出来
流出来的只有水草

只有用树枝拼一个图案
再抛向深水中的花环

我没有去过罗马湖
我只是看过《罗马假日》

那变幻不已的短发和长发
已经浮上湖面的水草

那浸在湖水中的红唇和紫唇
深深地,把你的阴茎包围




 
Yuan Yongping



Marriage

They’ll be happy, she thinks.
At least a body should have another.
One appropriate summer
a noble rear end should at least
have possession of a pair of nice breasts   
or a shoulder blade
should acquire a high quality rib.
Even so, all of the qualities of the body
are always being replaced by its natural qualities.
Just as a piece of iron turns non-ferrous
summer becomes fall and winter solstice.
Even so,
a breast no longer possesses itself,
and on a rainy day your husband loves your hair
his eyes love the roots of your hair
his mouth loves the ends of your hair
and your mother back in the village hopes you
will obediently learn how to cook
while you’re hoping you’ll learn how to use a trowel.



结婚

他们会幸福的,她想。
至少一个肉体应当拥有另一个。
在一个适当的夏季
至少一个高贵的臀部
应当拥有属于它的一对好的乳房
或者一面肩胛骨应该
获得一段优质的肋骨。
即使是这样,肉体的所有属性
不断地被替换掉它的自然属性。
就像一块铁变成一块非铁
夏季就要成为秋天和冬至。
即使是这样,
一只乳房也不再拥有它自己,
你丈夫在一个雨天爱你的头发
他的眼睛爱你的发根
他的嘴巴爱你的发尾
你在乡下的母亲希望你
乖乖地学会做一顿好早饭
同时你希望学会使用镘刀。
                   


Nocturne

There will be real tides,
will they come tonight?
A day of being a wife.
People come
and are put in their proper places
facing where the graves will arrive.
There will be real forgiveness,
will it come tonight?
“I am a wife,”
“I am a czar.”
They look, criticize,
while their other hand—
murders.
There will be real death,
will it come tonight?
This brief journey,
and so much time used up.



夜曲

会有真的潮汐,
在今夜吗?
这妻子的一天。
众人到来
他们安放彼此的地方
就是墓穴到来的方向。
会有真的谅解,
在今夜吗?
"我是妻子",
"我是沙皇"。
他们看着,指责,
而另一只手
——杀害。
会有真的死,
在今夜吗?
这短暂的旅途,
许多消耗掉的时间。


 

 

 

[Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind: Selected Poems of Wang Xiaoni (Zephyr Press, 2014) was the winner of the 2015 Lucien Stryk Prize and the recipient of a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Grant. The book was shortlisted for the International Griffin Prize. She is also the translator of the anthology Iron Moon: Chinese Worker Poetry (White Pine Press, 2017) and The Roots of Wisdom: Poems by Zang Di (Zephyr Press, 2017). Her first collection of poetry, Nine Dragon Island (Enclave/Zephyr, 2016), was a finalist for the Drunken Boat First Book Prize. She is a Research Associate at the Harvard University Fairbank Center.]

 
Copyright © 2017 by Eleanor Goodman, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.



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