[ARCHIVE] “June” by Xi Xi, translated by Jennifer Feeley

Poetry / June/July 2019 (Issue 44)

June 六月
by Xi Xi, translated from the Chinese by Jennifer Feeley

六月

牆上掛著幅
抽象畫,兩旁是
巨型書架
能夠坐在這裏
一塊兒聊天
真好。你的女兒
在中央美術院
念書,我們剛好
帶了冊亨利摩亞
送給她

你帶我們去逛
民辦、書舍,過兩條街
還有唱搖滾樂的
咖啡店,喇嘛廟旁
住著坐在輪椅上
沈思的作家。除夕
子夜,揮手再見,清晨
八點,你撥電話來
報訊:下雪了
從飯店的露台
我們看見,銀白
美麗的長安街
樓房的屋頂,灑遍
童話世界的糖粉

每年六月,我們孕育
遠行的夢,看一點
山水,買一點書
探訪朋友。六月
又來了,天色
詭異、你們那裏
驟然雪崩,透過
熒光屏幕,坦示
慘白的廣場,都城
滿罩濃霜,寒流
不斷擴散,所有的人
震驚

這麼嚴峻的六月
你好麼?只有
降溫的消息,太冷
太冷了,遠方的景物
凝結成冰
我們的夢氣球
一一凍裂。攤開
地圖,不知道
兩隻腳,還可以選擇
哪一個方向

一九八九•七•四

JUNE

On the wall hung
an abstract painting flanked
by huge bookcases
How nice it was
to sit together
just chattering away the day. Your daughter
was studying
at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, so we
gave her a book we’d been carrying
on Henry Moore

You took us on outings
to private bookshops. Two blocks away
there was a rock-and-roll
café, and next to the Lama Temple
the home of a wistful writer
in a wheelchair. Midnight
New Year’s Eve we waved goodbye, then at 8
in the morning you phoned
to proclaim: It’s snowing
From the hotel terrace
we were entranced by the silver-white
beauty of the Avenue of Eternal Peace
building rooftops sprinkled with
powdery sugar from a fairy-tale world

Every June we dreamed
of far-off lands, of seeing a few
sights, buying a few books
visiting old friends. June
comes again, the colour of the sky
unearthly, where you are
there are sudden avalanches
the fluorescent screen starkly bares
a square ghostly pale, the capital
shrouded in thick frost, a cold front
advancing, everyone
in shock

What a grim June
So how are things with you? Not much to tell
except the temperature is falling, it’s so cold
so very cold, distant scenes
freeze
our dream balloons
pop one by one. We unfold
a map, unsure
if our feet still have the right to choose
where they’re heading

July 4, 1989

Xi Xi 西西 (author) is the pseudonym of the Chinese author and poet Zhang Yan. She was born in China and came to Hong Kong at the age of twelve. Xi Xi received the Cikada Prize in 2018 and the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature in 2019.

Jennifer Feeley (translator) is the translator of Not Written Words: Selected Poetry of Xi Xi (Zephyr Press and MCCM Creations, 2016), for which she won the 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize. She holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures from Yale University and is the recipient of a Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry and Translation Fellowship. One of 25 newly announced NEA Literature Translation Fellowships, Jennifer is translating Xi Xi’s Mourning a Breast. (Photograph of Jennifer © Shi Lessner.)

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