Original poems by me and Wei Hui

This last trip to Beijing involved delivering my own poems written for the first time in Chinese.  In fact, its been twenty years since I’ve written a poem anyway, so the language shift did not seem such a daunting task, at least not until I tried it.  The result was, in fact, a delightful collaboration between me and life partner Wei Hui, who began as my editor, but as the edited text began to bear no resemblance to its original “self,” emerged as co-autho of two Mid Autumn Festival poems.  Below is the better of the two, “Taipei Mooncakes”.  (for uninitiated: mooncakes are small pastries exchanged among friends and particularly family during one of China’s major festival days 中秋节). The original Chinese version is  followed by the highly curious exercise of translating myself (or is it the marital “us”?) back into English.

台北月饼

离开你们

是出于一个正当的邀请

于是我来到这个

被炎夏控干了一遍又一遍

却又在夜色中无悔地丰艳开来的

都市

在一个便当与另一个便当的

呼吸中

我捕捉着一袭又一袭的

似曾相识

也应该是你们进餐的时辰了吧

胖胖的小手,还在空中索要着

无尽的果汁?

被流放的无望淹没了

倦缩在泛黄的旧床垫上

窗外一浪一浪的蝉声

将十天后的归期

推止遥遥

终于,我回家了

与一群吵闹的月饼

和一卷

塞在唇彩盒里的纸币

今天,是我们十年的婚庆纪念日

Taipei Mooncakes
I left you three
on official invitation
and came to this city
smothered in summer
and open, shamelessly, to the night
in the breath between one take-out lunch
and another
I glimpse again and again these seemingly once familiar faces
–should be about time for your dinner as well?
Those chubby little hands, still waving about for apple juice?
submerged in exile
curled up on an old yellow mattress
with the waves of cicada song outside my window
reminding me of how very long the days
till my return
and finally, I am back
with a noisy box of moon cakes
and a small roll of cash
stuffed into a cosmetic case for
this, our 10th wedding anniversary
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