translated by Xi Nan

“The moon is my only spiritual fortune. It is also my only tomb.”

Grow Grass, Nourish Dew

A visitor said my courtyard was barren, overgrown with weeds

I didn’t tell him: my days are to
grow grass and nourish dew

They are just like me; ordinary ones in plants

behind the plain appearances
a crystal heart is nourished

The Whole Sky Was the Roof of My House

At night, the whole sky was the roof of my house
every star was a light bulb
the moon was the biggest light bulb

How poor we were at that time
sitting under the starry sky, too poor to know poor
not a penny to our names
left only the roof made of the starry sky
and the living room made of the earth

Watching Airplanes

In the days in the Lu Xun Institute of Literature (鲁迅文学院), I always sillily sat
on the stone steps in front of the dormitory, watching airplanes, every one minute or two
there was one. Tons of steel, not at all like
when they were staying on the ground—clumsy

In my childhood, it was difficult to see an airplane, every time saw one,
I would follow the mountains, run a long way

Nowadays, even though I’ve taken countless airplanes, indeed,
a little tired of them—but,
as long as this big bird flies overhead, still,
can’t help staring, until it disappears. I don’t know,

what am I looking up to, waiting for, or,
what am I seeking for

Sitting in the huge Beijing city, as sitting on the hillside of my childhood

After You Left, China Roses in the Yard Bloomed

The wall should be from the last century, the wooden door
still the same as it was in the old days, for a long time
it has been silent, I’ve lived here for many years
been drilling a deep well of time
behind the time

Still remember when you came, the door knocker lightly sounded
awakened the whole garden of plants

After you left, the China roses in the yard bloomed

Crickets Come Down from the Moon

I believe that crickets, come down from the moon
with silverware in their voices, by just
a little jump, they can jump onto the moon

Many years have passed, I still
sit in that moonlight
that moonlight was very white, under the sky was extremely bright
an old dynasty, lives in the chirping of crickets

An Impossible Wish

He’s been living out of the world in the countryside all his life, never traveled far, his world is just
one pool, two streams, three or five huts
six or seven barren fields, eight or nine green hills
He has no gold or silver or treasures, nor does he know what
saving is; he’s illiterate, does not know how big the globe is, and he does not know
how big, his Gaoping Village (高坪村) is
He knows, no more than two hundred people
The relatives and neighbors in several villages, are all
the social relations he has; his only friends is Tie Dan (铁蛋, literally means “iron ball”)
who grew up barefoot together since childhood; he’s only one wife, but
countless descendants. They, like weeds, spread everywhere
travel all over the world, and finally come back to see him. Some become officials, some are in business
some are teaching, some are studying abroad; there’re PhDs, masters, there’re also graduates
or dropouts from junior high schools. They’ve seen the world, rich in experiences, and can survive
without farming and watering the earth. But compared to him
their knowledge and understanding of life, is nothing more than
a superficiality. He’s someone else’s elder, I still wish him to live long there
forever. If I go to his house, he would recognize me as his offspring
in his old eyes, and I’m also happy to
call him grandpa. But what I wish more for is that, one day,
I grow old and become like him, another self

People Who Love Me Are the Ones Who Exhaust Me

Carrying name identity clothes fame fate family society and right and wrong, and whatever else
walking alone in this turbid world, as if carrying a pile of bright-colored garbage, never letting it go for a moment
surrounded by, tinkling sounds

The people who love me, are the ones who exhaust me, (while I can’t find a reason to hate you)

At that moment actually I’d let it go, but you’d still not let it go
until putting my name on the tombstone and genealogy, like hanging an immortal soul

—at that moment, my heart stopped, leaving only a pile of flesh. You see,
the moon, this silver coin that’s within my easy reach, is so much like my penniless life

Three People

The same house, we’ve lived in for many years;
the same meal, we’ve eaten for many years;
the same household registration book, we’ve used for many years…

As if it is always the same morning and dusk:
We leave the room, and come back again and again;
the early returner sits on the sofa, watching TV while waiting for,
the sound of the late returner inserting the key into the keyhole.

Door of a Humble House

In the countryside, the door of a humble house is not locked
but I can guarantee, there is no one inside
What’s the need for a lock? A well of water
to quench thirst, a piece of shade
to comfort the passers-by, besides these
there’s nothing else to lock. If it must be locked
only the air and the time, and the broken silver of the moonlight are left inside
But air cannot be locked
time cannot be locked, and moonlight cannot be locked
Besides, the old men and women who leaves their house, can’t go far
Most of those who go far, are the wastrels who forget about their hometown
and their parting vows, or
their dead bodies that can never return

As if Life Has Never Begun

What once came rushing, is rushing away…

Nothing can be retained, nor does it ever stop

Such as undulating green mountains, rolling clouds. Such as time, fervent wishes,
hurts, the distance, fighting to win, passion and hope

Nothing matters anymore. Even sighs are
like fallen leaves, too lazy to use strength. At that time thought
the world would change, and only myself would not. Now everything’s
just the opposite

But I still have tides inside me; it has just come
and gone; as if life, has ended
and as if it has never begun.

About the Translator

Xi Nan (西楠), born in China, writes and translates, indie publisher, author of different genres. Some works of hers are published in English. Her translation work of ten poems (originally authored by Fish Lu in Chinese) was nominated by Terror House Magazine for the 2020 American Pushcart literary prize. She graduated from London School of Economics and Political Science, now lives in Hangzhou and London. Her Twitter page is here and her Facebook page is here.