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.
…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