Without even a cat’s meow,
Spring has begun.
For example, the harsh Beijing dust storms.
Plastic bags on the street are stuffed into winds.
As outsiders we do not understand the source of this power.
We cannot see the sky, only each other
And the whirling bags, we imagine as
Life’s joys that ride the dust, grow distant, taken by the wind.
There is a poetry-theme party at the karaoke bar.
I bought a rose--
One rose equals a hundred.
We sit and listen to Hu Ma-ge sing:
“How could I have feelings?”
Still, no cat meows this spring,
No yowling, though the red apricot has grown beyond the wall*.
A fish that eluded the net has been following me.
I don’t know what that means.
Maybe she was strewn by the flow of time.
Time comes from behind, pushes my eyes out their sockets.
They drop into my hands, dash about nonstop.
Illness has always followed me.
I don’t know what that means, either.
Do I have to visit hospitals forever with the hope one day I’ll be cured?
From the painkiller the doctor begins.
There is also a butterfly taking medicine that wraps around me.
I run into the day, my head lowered,
And feel the light and dark, months and years, melt into my hair.
A straw hat floats down the river,
Which is the dream of my childhood,
Dancing with dust until sunset.
I am close to you,
As distant as my palm to the back of the hand.
I miss you so much,
Even perfume can injure, now.
Falls on my left shoulder,
My right wing loses its balance.
Where can I sleep tonight?
Wants to fly farther than a bird.
My love, I’m so sick I cannot rise.
I thrust myself out of the world--
That is a possibility.
To imitate vanishing, I disappear my hands.
My love, the snow continues to fall,
Tell me how to face the floods.
A bird falls on my right shoulder.
I can accept, or reject
I walk toward you minding my pings and zes*.
As I stride with my left foot and extend my right, they cross.
You planted a tree on my back.
That is a snake. It forgot precisely how to molt.
Sinking boats since childhood--
I unlock the door and enter: I have molted into a pile of clothes,
Which hangs on the floor.
We open the door from inside,
Wash our tools one by one.
We need five minutes, then must sleep
Heedless of the cycle of seasons.
That day I used up my life
And was not able to put on my clothes again.
December 2000-March 2001
1. A common image in old Chinese romantic literature signifying pre-marital or extra-marital liaisons.
1. Literarily "ping"s and "ze"s refer to the strict prosodic requirements of traditional Chinese poetry whereby the words chosen for a given line have to constitute a sequence of tones that correspond to a standard pattern.