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  • Think of this Word, and: White Sand Gate, and: Gratitude
  • Duo Duo (bio)
    Translated by Ming Di (bio)

think of this word

This thinking, full empty,this meaning, the mine, the spellbound,the force from the coal seam,the blood seamed deep in the formation,the intersection where humans are spilled out,the shake of the left hand, the hole that's left there—think of this death, this don't-know-how-to-die.

Inside the sand, upright spines are buried,and on their shoulders are cemeteries and construction sites.Inside the tent, death is too much exposed.The burial releases a force.Before that, invested in the pit is the credit of time.From the center flow out the pre-death events,in silence.Above the constructed and to-be-constructed wildernessis the history, in which no onelives in a safety zone.No watching, no motivationto watch. But in watching itwe return to it, partially.

This—this plural form of promises in the wild weeds . . . [End Page 29]

white sand gate

Pool tables face the deformed statues, nobody—Giant fishing nets hang on the broken walls, nobody—Bicycles are locked to the pillars, nobody—Three of the angels on the pillars are shot down, nobody—The asphalt ocean water will soon rush in, nobody—One horse is left on the beach, but nobody—You stand there, and you become a surplus—nobody,nobody would take what they see as home.


In returning what we've taken, we take again,and we're grateful to the emptied space, our land.

We expand its geography to the mining zonein the off-hours, and are grateful to its past, a wide land.

Our ancestors refuse to be plaster statues,we're grateful to the trees—they stand in line as our families.

Tombstones will no longer measure the groundwater levels,we're grateful to them, singers of the earth.

We bow to the earth that continues to give,grateful to its deep messages that reach our knees.

When the blessings are not sure where to go,we're grateful to the hidden journeys.

When the emptied space reveals the wheat field underneath,we're grateful for the unexpressed apologies.

When the trees send a lyrical force to touch our shirts,we're grateful to the stars that point down

to what we should be grateful tobut has been concealed from us . . . [End Page 30]

Duo Duo

Duo Duo 多多 is the pen name of Li Shizheng. He was born in Beijing in 1951 and started writing poetry in the early 1970s. His books in translation include The Boy Who Catches Wasps (2002) and Snow Plain (2010). He is the first Chinese recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Ming Di

Ming Di 明迪 is a Chinese poet based in the U.S. She attended Boston College and Boston University, where she taught Chinese. She has published six books of poetry in Chinese along with a collaborative translation, River Merchant's Wife (2012). She co-translated The Book of Cranes by Zang Di (2015) with Neil Aitken, and Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia (2015) with Jennifer Stern, which was a finalist for the 2016 Best Translation Book Award. She edited and co-translated New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (2013) and New Poetry from China 1917–2017 (2019). In 2013 and 2014, she received Henry Luce Foundation fellowships. A co-founder of Poetry East West journal, she serves as the China editor for Poetry International Rotterdam. She has also translates from English into Chinese, most recently Observations by Marianne Moore (2018).



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