[Susan’s poem can be found below.]
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Liu Xiao Bo has Left China
by Susan Lavender 柳安霞
Adam’s rib: she remained part of him,
To the last, even when the light was so dim.
She held up more than half his sky
Without a sigh,
Matching hearts and minds, even her name fits in his, it’s plain to see:
Twin faces mirrored each other in a single love,
When at the final hour,
From up above,
Came a Greater Power.
It cut your reins
That bound him tight.
It slashed your chains
Of bloodless murder, as he continued to fight.
It ended his pains
And so, despite you, he set sail.
You could not prevail.
So you see, you are not supreme.
That’s just your dream.
You couldn’t stop him leaving
Though you keep his widow grieving.
“After I am dead
Don’t go down,” to her he said.
You ground to powder his body
But his ashes still embrace his 虾米.
You scattered them at sea,
But from there they flow to the world that’s free.
Why can’t his little shrimp swim there?
She’s caught in a net. Is that fair?
Wherever there’s water or an empty chair
He’ll be remembered there,
Because we, as one humanity, all care.
But in every rosy sunrise and sunset that bears her name
We’ll remember her too,
Each morning and evening the same,
You can’t hide her from view,
For now we see her in his empty chair
Now he lives within her—the inseparable pair.
Now it’s reverse symmetry
But we continue to ask: WHERE IS SHE?
We will never be silent
Just always peacefully defiant.
Liu Xiao Bo has left China
But not Liu Xia
Now he’s free
But not she.
(This poem was first published in Issue 38 of Cha.]
SUSAN LAVENDER 柳安霞 identifies as a Hong Konger, having lived in Hong Kong and China for 26 years and having studied Mandarin in Beijing. She is a published poet, actress, solicitor, radio newsreader, Italian translator and regular participant at Poetry OutLoud Hong Kong, Peel Street Poetry and Liars’ League HK. Lavender studied acting in London and performs in theatre, poetry and story-telling events, often writing her own material for fund-raising events for causes such as diversity and LGBT rights. Anglo-Italian by birth, she is bilingual in English and Italian, fluent in French and has degrees in law and modern languages.
[Susan Lavender: A featured reader at Liu Xiaobo Elegies (念念劉曉波)—a reading jointly organised by Cha and PEN Hong Kong, on Friday 29 June 2018.]