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from the September 2019 issue

Cloth Birds

 

"Cloth Birds" is one of four winning poems selected by Mónica de la Torre for the Words Without Borders—Academy of Americans Poets Poems in Translation Contest.

 


Listen to Natascha Bruce read her translation of Hong Kong poet Dorothy Tse's "Cloth Birds."
 

 


Listen to Dorothy Tse read "Cloth Birds” in the original Cantonese.

 

There's no cloth hawker in the bazaar 
willing to make dirty deals 
with the health inspector 
neither will they confess the link 
between those bolts of flyaway fabric 
and ancient birds 
(lo a sage appeared 
drilled fire from sticks 
transformed the stinking food 
and the people were happy

after the ban on cooking smoke 
glug glug swallow 
the secret of seawater and its fish 
tile cities built up and pulled down 
at four in the afternoon 
a routine inspection 
into the cleanliness of laughter 
a hand spread wide in the dark is 
splattered with light 
a carambola tree sprouts branches from stumps 
its remaining fruits sour and shrivelled to stardust 
swaying in the void 
the sky so dull 
and the city official 
at the newly-sterilized entrance 
frantically gouging 
a spy hole onto the blankness 

 


"布鳥" © Dorothy Tse. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Natascha Bruce. All rights reserved.

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