Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.
from the November 2007 issue


So many things follow us
like the moon, listening for our primal cries.
We stop, it stops,
while thirty miles ahead
bright moonlight floods the brain of a wild animal.

Grief rushes through its sorrows.
Now is the moment to shake the moon from our track,
yet like a dead friend's soul
it slips into my six-square-meter room.

If I can't plant my fingerprints on the moon,
who's to say it exists?
The mad still dance in moonlight,
old women in alleys wrap their heads with flowered scarves,
and the blazing eyes of black cats mock only the gutless.

If you've something to say, say it loud
on a moonlit night—how many times,
on the dark path from the bar to the planetarium,
the drift of low voices, talk of revenge,
talk of eloping.

If you mean to dig a grave, dig quickly,
don't wait till the moon splits your flesh,
knocks on the heatpipes under your ribs,
shifts the tinge of your blood,
makes you fall in love with that skeleton in the casket.

Life is a man strolling in moonlight,
pouring out his passion
on a tin whistle.
We stumble after,
a sudden laugh hissing through our lips.

Though the trailing moon
never blocks our steps, it vanishes
to let the darkness work,
then soon after death
appears beside our bodies,
silent, rising.

Translation of "Yue Liang." First published in Poems of Xi Chuan (Beijing: Renmin Wen Xue Chubanshe, rpt. 2002). Copyright Xi Chuan. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Diana Shi and George O'Connell. By arrangement with the translators. All rights reserved.

Read the author's "At 30."

Read more from the November 2007 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.