Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fan Jinghua: The Ancient Way of Parting

  The Ancient Way of Parting

The imaginable distant place where he is going is visibly covered by grasses
As they come here, following a white clean path
To this ferry surrounded by rust-stained weeds.
Nothing special, really. Ordinary coming and going,
The same as the day he came to meet him at the dusk quite like today.
They meet for the first time, and yet they seem to have known each other many lives,
And this parting means only an end of one of their crossings in this life.
Or so they think, avoiding the thought
That the never-again parting in the future is taking place before their eyes.

They make the usual gestures for goodbye, wrapping the left fist with the right palm,
Waving hands and then standing still in long gaze.
One watches at the boat sailing away, dwindled,
While the other sees the ferry backing into nothing.
Distance spreads blankness and vastness into the field of vision.

He turns back, and the path remains there, occasional twos and threes walk along;
The boy at the inn greets him as loudly as he did them at noon,
But their table has been taken by another two.
He sits at the adjacent one, over a plate of boiled peanuts which he picks up
And one by one he hears the faint wet snaps.
When the two have left
They leave behind empty drinking bowls piled upon half of the table.
When the sun sets, he sees a lonely gown standing at the end of the boat,
The same color as the weathered sails.
He seems to see himself there, full of holes,
Stricken by the cries of southern-bound wild geese.

Late at night, he paces around his desk for a poem to his friend
When he is taken aback by a few continuous charring cracks on the oil lamp
He seems to hear from the darkness
A heart-breaking rumor to be spread at tomorrow dusk
And tears rush out of the springs of eyes
The unfinished goodbye has never the chance to come to an end
While his poem has only two lines
"Withered grasses have drowned the ancient road to the edge of earth,
My friend, by which way do you think you could return to your abode,"
Which require no abrupt turn
But a surprise of expression following the usual course of poetics.

What we can read today are the poems and their friendship, quite abstract like names,
But we do not know what jokes they laughed about over the wine
Or what had been swallowed on the ferry of their once and only parting.
As I am writing this now, the thought rises—
If we meet one day and then part, what could we speak out and what would not?
                Jan. 15, 2009


   古离别

本来,想象中可见的远方也只是草连着草
他们从白净的小道上走来
渡口处,芦苇开始锈蚀
寻常的来来往往,并无什么特别的人与景物
一如他的来临,也是这样的黄昏
此生的初相识,几世的旧相知,这一次分手
不过是结束一次相遇,他们都避免想象
未来的生离死别就在眼前发生

他们拱手拜别、挥手、久久凝望
一个看到船帆越来越小
一个看到码头越退越后
距离将消失与空阔涂满视野

他转头,小道仍旧,偶尔有三三两两的行人
小街上酒馆的小二仍然热情地招呼,一如中午招呼他们两人
他们坐过的桌子被另外两个人占据
而他坐在另一边,一碟水煮花生,一颗一颗地剥
一声声沉闷潮湿只有他自己听见
那两个人离去时
空酒碗摞起来也排满了半个桌子了
夕阳西下时,他看到船尾那孤独的旧袍子
和久经风雨的船帆颜色接近,似乎那就是他自己
被南飞的雁声击中,一个个窟窿

夜深了,他背着手围着书案徘徊已久
豆油轻轻地连续炸了几下
他隐约听到黑暗中传来一个心碎的消息将要在明天黄昏传闻
突然泪如泉涌
原来还没有完成的道别已永远不再
赠友诗才写出两行:
“天涯枯草淹没了古道
朋友,你经哪条路归去”
后面的句子原本不该有什么突兀的转折
只应该在诗意的轨道上精彩

如今我们读到他们名下的诗歌和抽象的友情
不知道他们在酒馆讲过什么笑话
在码头分手时什么话被咽进了肚里
我写到这儿,想着
哪天我们见面、分手,能说出来的又会是什么
        2009年1月15日

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