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Manoa 12.2 (2000) 57-59

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Three Poems

Xue Di

Internal Relations

Christened in whitest snow
A lifestyle the very image of
winter landscape. The horses, blue

crook their necks, sleep
soundly in the snow.
The child peels Chinese bananas

develops very thin life-
long, filled with spirit and good will
Darkness dances in his fine

symmetrical limbs. Riven, like
sex emerging naked in a core
of light. Together with a

pretty woman, kindhearted, moist, the fire
surges up again. Yellow weasels gang up
screaming in a no-man's-land.

Her face is radiant. Black night's
youngest psychic child
dissonant most when alone

Pheasants return in memory before sunset
Wild dogs traipse the snow in the
small town. The child called Xue

utterly lonely, fantasizes all day long
He has seen happiness, translucent, shining, shattered
heaviest snow of the year

Translation by the author with Keith Waldrop [End Page 57]


Six years of drought
Eye on the boats. River grows short

Man lost in a foreign land
speaking some other sort of language

closer to himself
the local scenery

smoke among rocks, dinnertime
through empty walls

Then the guests lift up their bodies
a river in a region without boats

tide rising. It's farther to my hometown
speaking some other sort of language

asking for the road home. A flock of gray birds
carries drought from the mainland

Cold surging from crystals of
oblivion, strange things, transparent [End Page 58]


Staring at the clouds, I see a single figure
arranging a flower garden. She sets three
streams between her seeds and the dairy cattle

Recalling childhood, I see a collapsed
well, eight full-bellied
pitch-black birds perched

among the ways of thought of
one who has moved into a strip of land
near the ocean. The man lives alone, dreaming

Lifting my gaze toward the sun, I see
a single shining wing, darkness
circling in the air. It is some other city

My loving heart in pain cries, Do love
her elegant, well-made naked body
my lonely unclean imagination

Daydream. Faith
Imaginary life
Love's flower bed beside three streams

Shattered continually by one
act from childhood
Each blackbird on its own

in the dreams of a believer in luck

Translations by Hil Anderson and Keith Waldrop

Xue Di was born in Beijing in 1957. Shortly after participating in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989, he left China and became a fellow in Brown University's Freedom to Write program. His published works include Heart into Soil, Flames, Trembling, and Dream Talk. He has twice received a Hellman-Hammett award, sponsored by the Fund for Free Expression, an affiliate of Human Rights Watch in New York.

Hil Anderson has lived in Taiwan, where he researched contemporary poetry. He is pursuing a joint degree at Harvard University and Georgetown Law Center.

Keith Waldrop lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches at Brown University. Among his books are Potential Random and Light While There Is Light: An American History.



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