Poetry in translation / July 2011 (Issue 14)


Two Poems

by Zang Di, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di

History of Daffodils, A Book Series

The aftershocks continue in Fukushima. Half the earth
is gradually drawn into the whirlpool of truth,
unclear of what's ethically far or near in further turmoil
that overflows the bubbles of fate to the edge of life.
But these yellow daffodils remain absolutely still.
Or they move like the spines of dinosaurs, dynamically static.
They choose to bloom in April, like us
when we sometimes try to race against time.
(Very often you like to race against me, no need to shy away.)
They look like green onions but they are not for eating –
they are prepared for being looked at. They are prepared
for us to see the different us.
Sometimes I go much further than loneliness,
I see you spit to nothingness,
which makes me aware of what these daffodils have done
to the history of ours. Their history is not how they were planted,
or distributed, but a series of records of what's blossomed on you
as we saw at a certain time. They indeed have brought us
from behind the history to the front of time.
I will not apologize for not being enthusiastic enough.
I will only apologize for not being subtle enough.
Let's make it here in Kanazawa then. Here  
a remoteness allows me to walk into their history.
Let it be, this deep way. Let it be, the way we look at their movement.
They see us from where we have never been, the same way
that we, in their absence, see their spirit
tranquil in the enormous shadows of reality.
 
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Rise Up Like a Snow Mountain, A Book Series

Every morning the snow mountains will fill up my window
before the sun rises. Automobile sounds turn down the volume
of night to the minimum, yet the shadows of cherry blossoms
will at any moment replace the shadows of time.
 
Needless to say this window had been taken by the winter
but returned to the spring. On the window is a piece of paper
that tells fortune, but it will say the same thing whether you poke it
or not. On the paper is a small hole of poetry.
 
And because of this small vent you can see much further than me.
You stay remote but faithful to the contradictions around me.
In Beijing, I would think towards west when it's about snow mountains,
but here in Kanazawa, I must get used to the east where snow rises.
 
Every morning I see from the window
the mountain range that slowly raises its flag,
and then the sun will take its turn to climb the ridge of
the snow mountains while its golden needles stab the nerves of all.
 
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