Image credit: Sufyan Jalal, from Withering Exhibition

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Together

In 1986 my father and mother

took a photo at Yellow Crane Tower

Hard to imagine, this turns out to be the

only existing photo of them together

After my mother passed away, my father dug it out

After my father passed away, we dug it out

intending to put it up on the tombstone for both of them

We set about the ritual from last Tomb-Sweeping Day

but according to the hometown tradition

the whole process would not end until three years later

Now each time I go back to visit my hometown

I persuade my mother, in front of her tomb, to be patient

Then I ask my father, in front of his tomb, not to worry

Every time I examine the photo

I feel an invisible ruler

measuring the distance between them in life

after their passing, and

between them and me

The desire to be together has never been so intense

 

 

Only to Continue to Write

When a book is almost over

is when you feel the most pain

A book

has its own main character

The character is dying but you

want the character to live longer

I am writing about

this particular moment

A year has gone by

Should I just let the book end in this manner

Almost every night I dream of

myself struggling

I want the end to come but I also do not want

to hopelessly fall into the cliched pattern

Last night was the most gruesome

one night’s sleep cut into four naps

Each time I woke up

I felt like

the hour hand stuck inside a watch

while the second hand was babbling

it responded only after a long while

At daybreak I promised myself

this definitely will be

the last day, definitely a happy one



Original ↓

在一起

 1986年我的父亲母亲

在黄鹤楼下留下过一张合影

没想到,这成了他俩现存的

惟一的一张合影照

母亲去世后,父亲把它翻出来

父亲去世后,我们把它翻出来

打算用在他们的合墓碑上

从去年清明节开始计划这件事

但按老家的规矩

得在三年之后才能落实

现在每次回去我都要

先去母亲的坟前劝她再耐心点

再去父亲的墓前劝他不要着急

现在每次看到这张合影

都感觉有一把看不见的尺子

在丈量着他俩生前的距离

死后的距离,以及

他们与我之间的距离

在一起的愿望从来不曾这样强烈过

 

 

惟有写

一本书将完未完的时候

是作者最痛苦的时候

一本书

有自己的主人公

他快要死了而你

还想让他再活一会儿

我在写

这样的时辰

一年已经过去了

就这么结束了吗

每天晚上我几乎都会梦见

他在挣扎

他希望赶紧结束却又不想

就这样落入无望的窠臼

昨天晚上是最难受的一夜

一场觉分了四次才睡完

每次醒来的间隙

我都能感觉到自己像

卡在表盘内部的指针

秒针在喋喋不休

时针半天才回应一下

天亮以后我对自己说

今天肯定是最后的

一天了,肯定很幸福

Translator's Note

These are recent poems. The first poem writes about the poet and his family going about the Chinese traditional ritual of burying one’s parents together after both are deceased and commemorating them during the Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb-Sweeping Day. As I translate this poem, I feel the specialness of this spring on this side of the world. After the very difficult 2020 spring, another very special spring is here. As the pandemic continues to raise winds and waves in many places, this spring is destined to be not only the usual celebration of regrowth and of love that binds the living and the dead but also added lamentation of the anguish of life having to exist in two worlds. The second poem describes the unbearable insomnia that accompanies the poet as he ends the writing of a new book. The last three lines indicate the poet believes that happiness of a poet does not materialize with the usual logic, that is, the completion of a book, but from the need to continue to write. That belief is strength and resilience. I therefore share these two poems to wish an enriched spring in the positive sense.


Yuemin He

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