Leaves are fawning on the breeze
to make an advance;
dews are forming on their back
from the dampness on the stem from the earth.
The far North straightens a face
of dignified gloom, and threatens a sleet.
Easterly wind is hijacked by the catkin
and croaks are bloated. The drum of dream tattoos
on both ends. Lotus elbows, lotus shins, sharp bamboo shoots.
Eager lips of flower-buds open to drones and hums.
Voiceless, jade-green deepens,
and the forked garden path closes in and thickens.
The vernal. Aches cherishable.
A naturalness we both fake.
High above the contour of faraway hills,
between the summer blue and the horizon
a burning distance holds.
Pavilions of clouds. Stillness. A guiding dog,
tongue stuck out, leads a drifter plowing along
the ancient road. The blades of grasses
shimmer, and devil horses raise high their saws.
The parting is not perfected, as the file of white birds
is not gilded. The whole afternoon, behind the veils
of mosquitoes, the birds have been drilling
their aerobatic flight through the strips of dead space
between the water, the treetop, the skyline and their reflections.
Now, darkness is wedging into the afterglow and depth of visions
will anchor onto a beach beyond my eyes’ reach.
A duet on the terrace thins to a recitative on the couch,
leaves have cleared their palms, their veins carving
a low relief on the steps. The wind, nibbling,
(that always comes a little earlier than it should)
begin to stock eggs of insects and summer warmth.
In the afterglow, sesame stalks smile, silvery, like
beacons rising on the Gobi, ancient battle cries muffled.
Wider becomes the sky and clearer the night.
All the distances are classic.
Campfires. Wolf eyes. Sparse stars.
A person under the desk light, bearing on his back
his own shadow, stretches his index finger
to draw the outline of another,
the open pages glazed with maple scarlet.
The Winter Solstice. Autumn winds blow on the other bank
of the Milky Way. Girls have all shown fat.
Diogenes’ bedclothes are cold and stiff. Tonight,
who will warm up his back, with her breasts and abdomen?
Who will add firewood and not make his eyes smart? After sunrise,
who will bring a cup of coffee to his study so that she could rub
her reddish cheeks against his rugged hands? Who will keep
his writing brushes clean and shiny, with the moist black hair
hanging down abreast on his staff, like a set of stilettos
safely sheathed? From the concave inkstone floats
the aroma of wisdom, and indistinct lines on the blotting paper
let loose a waterfall onto a screen of bamboos. There
should be twelve green frogs, twenty-four pearly breasts, and
a square seal on the bottom of a bowl: Diogenes the Great Dog.
Oct. 2004, Jan. 2005
The Chinese version was published
in Peking University Annual Poetry Anthology 2005
(Beijing: Peking University Press, 2006)