Featured Writer Zhu Zhu: Four Poems

Days with a Swedish Friend

Light does not return on the glass,
but arrives.
Spring does not linger on ice and snow,
waiting for the animals to come out.
Rivers then soften.
In the southern sky,
even if shadows have a certain thickness,
with a light touch,
they break.

On the pond,
the testicles of hyacinth beans
rock softly,
rock softly.
Under the glazed roof
dark creases unfold.
One by one, people
cross streets
not yet knowing why they cross.

In “ice-land,”
where such a word means
the loneliness of Scandinavia
(there, every house
is a faraway lover),
it is already midsummer.
The crowd of this day
is the crowd of this century.

Light intensifies.
Like water splashed from the pond, willows devour us
and the fisheye lens
in your hand.
Embers, when dark enough, can be used as mirrors.
Butterflies are so light that they can take something on instead;
butterflies begin to flutter their wings—
and no longer ask you to hold
their parched eggs.

I put my hand
on your statue-like body, now melting.
You are not an exile
but have chosen another way of life,
and you say: “There are many kinds of exile…”

 

和一位瑞典朋友在一起的日子

光不在玻璃上返回,
而是到来。
春天不是在冰雪上犹豫地停留,
等待动物爬出来,
河流随之柔软。
在南方的天空下,
阴影即使有厚度,
也是轻巧的一触,
就碎去。

水池上,
扁豆的睾丸
轻摇着,
轻摇着,
琉璃瓦的屋顶下
那些阴森的褶皱展开了。
人们一个接着一个,
穿过了街道
但又不知为什么穿过。

在“冰岛”
这样的词意味着的
北欧的孤寂里
(那里,每一座房屋
都是一个遥远的情人),
这里已经是盛夏,
这一天的人群
就是一个世纪里的人群。

光还在增强。
杨柳像溅起来的池水吞没我们
和你手中的
鱼眼镜头。
黑极了的煤可以做镜子了。
蝴蝶轻盈得可以反过来承担什么了;
蝴蝶开始展翅——
不再要求你盛放
干涩的卵。

我将手放在你
那正在熔化的雕像式的躯体上,
你不是流亡者
而是选择了另一种生活,
但是你说: “流亡有很多种……”

 

The Wild Great Wall

I

Label of the Earth’s surface
or a trace strangled deep in memory
vanishes at the invasion of sandstorms and droughts
into mountains whose skin tone is ever closer to ours.

We were once here. Even
a young solider conscripted from a small town
would stand tall and with the heart of a rich man
judge aliens through piles of arrows, the herd of people,
no better than beasts crawling through a wasteland.

Here, we have already built a giant bathtub
to soak ourselves in warm, languid routine.
While women play on a swing in the garden,
men’s eyes seek out reflections in the water;

bloody, barely-cooked meat too uncouth,
the eaves of our civilization
are now demanding to the last stretch of their upward tips.


II

Now, go through
the most thorough of all destructions:
forgetting—it is like

a reptile spine
moving toward its final decay.
Mountain ridges beam in Jurassic quietude,
as the sun sets, the engine dies slowly down.
The remnant light falls like rusty arrows.

I come to trace the life that disappeared long before our birth,
as if the philological fingers knock
the ridge of an empty shell,
whose inside has been picked clean, in anguish.


III

In the peach trees on the steep slope,
bees hum and buzz around.
They have set up a campsite
in a nearby beacon tower
that has been smashed like earthenware.

Their song seems to say:
everything returns to nature…

Wild grass, like fingers deep in the earth,
like a fiery troop of ghosts with halberds and lances held high,
climbs onto collapsed steps.
This moment, countless startled landscapes must be fluttering
and fleeing off the walls in museums everywhere.

 

野长城

地球表面的标签
或记忆深处的一道勒痕,消褪在
受风沙和干旱的侵蚀
而与我们的肤色更加相似的群山。

我们曾经在这边。即使
是一位征召自小村镇的年轻士兵,
也会以直立的姿势与富有者的心情
透过箭垛打量着外族人,
那群不过是爬行在荒原上的野兽。

在这边,我们已经营造出一只巨大的浴缸,
我们的日常是一种温暖而慵倦的浸泡。
当女人们在花园里荡秋千,
男人们的目光嗜好于从水中找到倒影;

带血的、未煮熟的肉太粗俗了,
我们文明的屋檐
已经精确到最后那一小截的弯翘。


现在,经历着
所有的摧毁中最彻底的一种:
遗忘——它就像

一头爬行动物的脊椎
正进入风化的尾声,
山脊充满了侏罗纪的沉寂,
随着落日的遥远马达渐渐地平息,
余晖像锈蚀的箭镞坠落。

我来追溯一种在我们出生前就消失的生活,
如同考据学的手指苦恼地敲击
一只空壳的边沿,
它的内部已经掏干了。


在陡坡的那几棵桃树上,
蜜蜂们哼着歌来回忙碌着,
它们选择附近的几座
就像摔破的陶罐般的烽火台
做为宿营地。

那歌词的大意仿佛是:
一切都还给自然……

野草如同大地深处的手指,
如同蓬勃的、高举矛戟的幽灵部队
登上了坍塌的台阶,
这样的时辰,无数受惊的风景
一定正从各地博物馆的墙壁上仓惶地逃散。

 

The Loudspeaker

Scorching summer not yet over, old locust leaves
curled in sunlight; in mother’s arms
I closed my eyes, faking sleep,
in my palms my beloved marbles rolled quietly—

I hated afternoon naps, this fatuous family ritual.
Out the door, cicadas sang on low branches,
tadpoles hatched in water, from the edge of the fields
whistles blasted as big ships passed through the canal.

Suddenly, saved! A sizzling electric current
snaked through the stillness that bided in the village bushes, adults
blinked open their sleepy eyes, dragged unseen shackles underfoot,
walked out of rooms, and gathered by the utility pole.

With a dazzling glare, a big loudspeaker hung high
like a warden’s bright helmet on the watchtower in a film
that surveyed the whole prison, as the clear blue sky offset
a delayed execution and a baritone announced the leader’s death.

This news, like a mason’s trowel,
instantly scraped off every facial expression.
Then, to the tune of a dirge, they circled like an earthen wall,
their heads sagged like bent-over sunflower stems.

I was wild with joy that mother’s hands clutched mine no more,
marbles could jump in joy along dirt roads,
around ponds, straw piles, and threshing floors of wheat,
and roll to the small forest outside the village—

here, in a nook swept by the intersecting blare of the loudspeaker,
so quiet that fluttering wings and the cracking joints of spurting shrubs
were audible, the moos of cattle could also be heard
rending the funeral-parlor hush of fields, and through

lattice-like twigs in the forest, I watched
spreading wild grass devour the lanes of past generations,
bends of the river wind toward the horizon,
like empty staves, waiting to be refilled.

I did not know that from then on, my steps
were tacitly turned toward the self-banishment of adult years,
toward this endless fated exile—to keep from being summoned
back under the loudspeaker, like a hostage, like a ghost.

 

喇叭

酷暑还未销尽,老槐树的叶子
卷刃在日光下;在母亲的臂弯里
我闭上眼睛,假装在沉睡,
手掌里悄悄转动着心爱的玻璃球——

我厌恶午睡这昏庸的家庭制度,
外边,知了在低俯的树枝上唱着歌,
蝌蚪在水中孵化,从田野的尽头
传来大轮船驶过运河时鸣响的汽笛。

突然,得救了!一阵嘶嘶的电流
蛇行于村庄那没入草丛的沉寂,大人们
惺忪着睡眼,脚底拖动着无形的镣铐,
从屋中走出,聚到了那根电线杆下,

强光刺目,大喇叭高高地悬挂
就像电影里岗楼哨卫发亮的头盔
在俯瞰整座监狱,天空的湛蓝反衬着
一个停摆的刑期,男低音宣告领袖之死。

这消息像泥瓦匠的刮刀
瞬间抹平了所有人脸上的表情,然后,
伴随着哀乐声他们围成一面土墙,
低垂的头颈就像向日葵折断的茎杆。

而我狂喜于母亲的手不再将我攥紧,
玻璃球可以沿着泥泞欢快地蹦跳,
绕过水塘、稻草堆和打麦场,
一直滚动到村外的小树林——

这里,喇叭声之间交叉扫射的死角,
静得能听见鸟翅的扑动,低矮的灌木丛
骨节在发育的劈啪声,能听见旷野里
牛的哞鸣撕破灵堂般的死寂;透过

林边那窗栅般的枝条,我眺望
绵延的野草吞没了祖辈们的小路,
那弯垂中蜿蜒向天际的河流
如同空白的五线谱,等待着新的填写。

我并不知道从那时候开始,自己的脚步
已经悄悄迈向了成年之后的自我放逐,
迈向那注定要一生持续的流亡——为了
避免像人质,像幽灵,被重新召唤回喇叭下。

 

Florence

A day of rush. Itineraries delayed
by getting lost. We study the map and forget
we are already in those pensively charming
alleys and structures, roaming obliviously
through its newly recovered anonymity.

Perhaps this is what Florence longs for,
otherwise it would not close its churches so often,
leaving tourists on the steps and in the square;
with magnificent marble it walls off a somber quietude
in the interior of a closed church, secreting emptiness.

Every place corresponds to the image of a person.
Florence reminds me of an old lady, standing
behind thick violet curtains looking outward,
mouth tilted in irony, in whose living room
hangs a small privately-owned Botticelli.

I worry about her restraint. Whenever people
praise our ancient art yet insist that
the Chinese today should only write political poetry—
in their imagination, aside from the bloodshed,
we do not deserve to seek beauty like artists before us,

nor do we have the right to indulge in the mundane and song;
in sharp spasms of morality, in the endless folds
of history, a life’s touch becomes
estranged from itself and is reduced
to footnotes about hardships and inhumane colonies.

Thus I would prefer that Florence be brightly open,
flat and even, like a plate at an outdoor café.
That waitress who comes to serve our desserts,
slowing her steps as she notices us staring at her skirt,
looks like a fluffy-haired, overripe Beatrice—

afternoon sunlight unloads the weight of every tree,
the leaves’ capillaries expand in the wind, and their shadows
pass over our foreheads and become another pause.
Guards talk to themselves in the arched hallways; peering
from every museum window, it is beautiful out and out.

 

佛罗伦萨

匆忙的一天。被迷路耽误了
行程。研究着地图而忘记
我们已经置身那些阴郁迷人的
街道和建筑,可以无知地漫游在
它突然被恢复的匿名状态。

或许这也是佛罗伦萨自身所渴望的,
否则它不会频繁地设定闭馆日
而将游客留在台阶上,广场上;
它用雄伟的大理石墙保护一种静穆,
在关闭的教堂内部,分泌空。

每个地方都可以对应某种人的形象,
佛罗伦萨让我想到一个老妇人,
她站在沉重的深紫色窗幔背后
向外看,嘴角挂着冷嘲,客厅里
挂着一小幅从未公开过的波提切利。

我戚然于这种自矜,每当外族人
赞美我们古代的艺术却不忘监督
今天的中国人只应写政治的诗——
在他们的想象中,除了流血
我们不配像从前的艺术家追随美,

也不配有日常的沉醉与抒情;
在道德剧烈的痉挛中,在历史
那无尽的褶皱里,隔绝了
一个生命对自己的触摸,沦为
苦难的注脚,非人的殖民地。

所以我宁愿佛罗伦萨是敞亮的,
浅平的,如同露天咖啡馆的碟子,
那前来送甜点的女服务员因为意识到
我们注意着她的裙子而放缓了动作,
像一个蓬松的、熟透的贝阿徳里采——

午后的阳光卸下了每棵树的重量,
叶子的毛细血管扩展于风,那些阴影
经过我们的额头时变成另一种逗留,
那些警卫在拱廊里自语:从任何
博物馆的窗口向外看,总是美丽的。

 

-Zhu Zhu (朱朱)

trans. Dong Li (李栋)

 

‘Days with a Swedish Friend’, ‘The Wild Great Wall’, ‘Florence’, and ‘The Loudspeaker’ by Zhu Zhu with English translations by Dong Li have been republished by Rochford Street Review courtesy of Phoneme Media. The poems and accompanying translations were previously published in several international literary magazines and appear the impressive collection of Zhu Zhu’s work, The Wild Great Wall (Phoneme Media, 2018).


 

!The Wild Great Wall dusk jacketZhu Zhu (朱朱) was born in Yangzhou, P.R. China. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and art criticism, including a bilingual French edition translated by Chantal Chen-Andro. He’s the recipient of Henry Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center and the Chinese Contemporary Art Award for Critics and has been a guest at the Rotterdam and Val-de-Marne International Poetry Festivals. He lives in Beijing.

Dong Li () was born and raised in P.R. China. He is an English language poet and translates from the Chinese, English, and German. He’s the recipient of a PEN/ Heim Translation Grant and fellowships from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Ledig House Translation Lab, Henry Luce Foundation/ Vermont Studio Center, Yaddo, and elsewhere.

Featured Translator Dong Li: Translator’s Note, The Wild Great Wall
Featured Writer Zhu Zhu: Biographical Note
Translator Dong Li: Biographical Note

The Wild Great Wall (野长城) by Zhu Zhu with translations by Dong Li is available from Phoneme Media

This entry was posted in Chinese Poetry, Dong Li, issue 25, Zhu Zhu and tagged , , , by Zalehah Turner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, photographer, cultural journalist, and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR). Zalehah regularly contributes articles and interviews on poetry, art, film, and new media for RSR and the UTS magazine, Vertigo. Zalehah’s poetry was projected onto the Federation Square Wall in Melbourne as part of the Overload Poetry Festivals, 2008 and 2009; exhibited at Mark and Remark ,107 Projects, Redfern in 2013; and displayed in Alice Springs and Moruya thanks to Australian Poetry Café poets, Laurie May and Janette Dadd respectively. Her poems have been published in Writing Laboratory (2013), Sotto (2013), Social Alternatives (2016), Vertigo (2016, 2017), UTS’s The Empathy Poems Project (2017) and Rochford Street Review (2017). She co-judged the New Shoots Poetry Prizes 2016 alongside, Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, and published the winning and highly commended poems. Zalehah is currently working on an intermedia poetry collection entitled, 'Critical condition', focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises based on personal experience. Zalehah holds a BA in Communication with a major in writing and cultural studies from the University of Technology, Sydney where she continues to pursue pushing the boundaries of multimedia poetry in Honours (Communication- Creative Writing).