I. Apartment

This is the 18th day I stay in 1303
I’ve already stayed in turn
Room 4, 2, and 3
Room 4 is relatively small
Might be the original second bedroom of the apartment
There is a small bay window
Hanging emerald curtains
Emerald color reminds me of summer
(It is now summer)
Room 2 seems to be the original master bedroom
There is a south-facing balcony
French windows
Plenty of sunshine
The air conditioner in Room 2 functions exceptionally well
Sometimes I feel cold during (summer) nights
And now
Now I am staying in Room 3
It should have been converted from the previous living room
There is a Turkey red two-seater sofa
Facing the double bed
Like passionate love
On the opposite right wall
Hangs “The Starry Night” by Van Gogh
Obviously an imitation
But I don’t care
I have to say
This room is kind of
Kind of making people
Inexplicably long for something
Sometimes I walk to the balcony
(An interconnecting long balcony
For Room 3 and 2)
Just to feel the temperature of the sunlight
For a while
At here I can hear
Traffic noises downstairs
Can see opposite—
Those building-groups in square shapes
And on the road
Pedestrians coming and going
At this time, if from Room 2 the
Miss Lonely
Also walks onto the Room 2 balcony
I would quickly return to my room
And close the French windows
Of Room 3

II. Tenants

When I was staying in Room 4
There was in Room 1
A thin and tall college girl
(Very thin and tall)
Once menstrual bloodstains
Were left on the toilet seat she had used
Another time she threw white gym shoes
Into the barrel washing machine for cleaning

Later I moved into Room 2
Then a lonely-looking young woman
Moved into Room 4
This thirtysomething
Ordinary-appearance woman
Every day wore a pink strap-shoulder
Low-cut silk nightdress
Switched on loud TV sound
(I further thought she was lonely)
Once I was making instant noodles in the kitchen
She purposely came out
Rolling her eyes and fanning the wind
“Where comes that smell?”
She immediately opened the front door for ventilation
With a disgusted look on her face
Another few times I
Was bathing
With both shower and lights fully on
She slapped the toilet door hard
Asking if anyone was in
She said the apartment she bought
Located just upstairs same building
Only because of loneliness
(Even herself admitted it)
She moved here to stay for a few days
(Now she is staying in Room 2)

When I moved into Room 3
Several young people came to the apartment
They talked loudly
Always excited
One of them
Once knocked on my room door
“Sister, you eat the watermelon!”
That was a chubby youth
I had not yet identified his/her gender
He/she had already left
I bit into the watermelon just delivered
Not exactly fresh


To listen to a reading of these poems by Xi Nan, watch the video below or click here.


This is an excerpt from Xi Nan’s and Fish Lu’s poetry collection, With Light and Dust. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.