Five Poems by Liu Xia

By: Liu Xia
Translated By: Ming Di , Jennifer Stern

Today PEN America features five previously untranslated poems by Lia Xia, artist, poet, and wife of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xia has been held under extralegal house arrest for more than three years, with almost no contact with the outside world. This week, PEN also posted a rare video smuggled out of China that shows Liu Xia reading two of her poems at home.

These poems were translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern.

Black Sail

The red-faced man goes fishing and catches
your favorite fish, a black fish, a fish who knows
your thoughts. Your heart splits in pain
and your teeth clench. Dejected
you stroke the sea, and where your hand
touches, fish jump up—so many fish.So many fish
seduce the red-faced man to hoist the sail
and set out to sea for the night,
forgetting it’s dark. One may get lost.

You reach out your arms and pull the red-faced
man close, his hair floating like green seaweed.
Then you calm down and light a cigarette—green
smoke rises. The next day, when firecrackers
clear the way for the full black sail,
you become a gust of wind, a cloud, an eye.

The woman who loses the man loses
her breast milk overnight. You appear
in the dreams of that thirsty child often,
telling him his father is happy in the sea.
And he is happy. The child becomes a man
keeping silent all day long. He remembers
everything but says nothing.

The woman’s tide ebbs in the distance
and the green seaweed moves with each wave.

December 1985

黑帆船

那个红脸汉子捕走了你最喜欢的一条鱼
一条黑色的鱼懂得你心事的鱼
你心欲裂把牙咬得咯咯响垂头丧气
你用手抚摸一下海面
手掠过的地方出现了无数条鱼无数条鱼
诱惑那红脸汉子升起船帆连夜出海
忘记这是在夜晚忘记会迷失方向

你悄悄地把那汉子拉近怀里
一直到他的头发成为海草绿色的飘荡
你平息了怒气点支烟青烟缕缕
第二天,当鞭炮响起来
为满黑帆的船开道的时候
你变成了一只眼睛一朵云一阵风

那失去汉子的女人奶水一夜间消失了
你反复托梦给那没奶吃的孩子
说他的父亲在海里日子过得很快活很快活
那孩子长成了汉子整日一声不吭
他什么都记得什么都不说

那女人生命的潮水远远退下去了
那丛绿色的海草随浪摇动

Fragment No. 8

I often look at the light
from death
and feel warm, then loss
when I have to leave the page.
I want to be in light.

My strength, worked for years,
has become dust. A tree
can be destroyed
by lightning,
which ends the thinking.

For me the future is
a closed window
where night has no end
and nightmares can’t be lifted.

I want to be in light.

2011

碎片8

我常常注视读到过的
死亡之光
觉得温暖
为不得不离开感到悲哀
我想去有光的地方

多年来保持的顽强
变成了尘埃
一棵树
一阵闪电就可以将其摧毁
什么都不想

未来对我而言
是一扇关闭的窗户
窗内的夜晚没有尽头
噩梦从没有消失

我想去有光的地方

Another Kind of Death

Joseph, the mute child, stands
in the shadow of a piano dark as a big blackbird.
Sunlight doesn’t reach him
and neither does the candlelight
from the hospital chapel.
I can’t touch him with my hands.
He stands there year after year
as the pages of the music book turn.

As the pages of the music book turn
he stands there year after year
and I can’t touch him with my hands.
The candlelight from the hospital chapel
doesn’t reach him, nor does sunlight.
In the shadow of a piano dark as a big blackbird
Joseph, the mute child, stands.

April 1986

另外一种死亡

哑孩子约瑟夫他站在那里
那只黑鸟一样巨大的钢琴的阴影里
阳光照不到 医院教堂的蜡烛照不到
我的手摸不着
他就站在那里一年又一年
那本琴谱一页一页掀过去

那本琴谱一页一页掀过去
他就站在那里一年又一年
我的手摸不着
医院教堂的蜡烛照不到 阳光照不到
那只黑鸟一样巨大的钢琴的阴影里
哑孩子约瑟夫他站在那里

June 2nd, 1989
— for Xiaobo

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun.

Standing behind you
I patted your head
and your hair pricked my palm
making it strange to me.

I didn’t have a chance
to say a word before you became
a character in the news,
everyone looking up to you
as I was worn down
at the edge of the crowd
just smoking
and watching the sky.

A new myth, maybe, was forming
there, but the sun was so bright
I couldn’t see it.

June 1989

一九八九年六月二日
──给晓波

这不是个好天气
我在茂盛的太阳底下
对自己说

站在你身后
拍了拍你的头顶
头发直刺我手心
这种感觉有点陌生

我没有来得及和你说上一句话
你成了新闻人物
和众人一起仰视你
使我很疲倦
只好躲到人群外面
抽支烟
望着天

也可能此时正有神话诞生
然而阳光太耀眼
使我无法看到它

Rant

I’m the soul in the body
of the man named Nijinsky.
Gaunt, I eat little, only
what the spirit feeds me.
I hate having a bloated
stomach. It inhibits dancing.

I’m afraid of crowds,
of dancing for them—
they demand a joyful jig
but joy is death. They feel
nothing but want
my life to match theirs.

I stay home to avoid
the crowds. Shutting
myself up in one room,
I stare at the walls and ceiling
to feel a life in this prison.

I’m a philosopher who thinks
with my body, I’m biological
theater, non-fiction, the body
of spirit whose language is
poetry. I am prosody.

Sleeping pills don’t work,
and alcohol doesn’t work.
I’m exhausted and watnt to stop
but this spirit in me won’t permit it.

I need to go, to go
to some great height and look down.
I need to go until I reach that height
I need to go.

2003

癔语

我是在一个名叫尼金斯基的人的身体里的灵魂
我吃得很少,尽管我很瘦
我只吃神让我吃的东西
我讨厌鼓胀的肠子
那会阻碍我跳舞

我害怕人群
害怕在他们面前跳舞
他们要我跳欢娱的舞蹈
欢娱就是死亡
他们感觉不到
却要我过和他们一样的生活

我要留在家里
避开人群
把自己关在房间里
望着天花板和墙壁
监禁中我也能找到生命

我是不思想的哲学家
是生命的剧场
不是虚构
我是有身体的神
喜欢用诗来谈话
我就是韵律

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