- Rain or Fish, and: Water Bird
rain or fish
Rain (yu) and fish (yu) are homonyms in Chinese but have different tones.
Suddenly lightningflashes and the rainis transformed into fish, each transparent bluefalling in a torrentacross the earth
Below,some of the people are startled and panic,they cower here and there and cover their heads.Others are ecstatic and opentheir welcoming arms.
I blink my eyes and cry aloud:Look, the sky is having a dream. [End Page 33]
Something streaks across the skyplunges into the water and rises—was it merely the sky's shadow?
The bird paddles along,slaps at the surface, then stops.What shall I do? It hesitates as ifconsidering its options:turn around, dive under, or fly away—three possibilities to choose from,three paths, three directions.
The bird turns back,Then returns, and suddenly dives as ifovercoming some obstacle in its path.It surfaces, and then rises into the airin the direction of the horizon.The bird is certain that it can haveall three choices, as if they were all one.
Only such a bird knows the meaning of freedom.But it does not speak.
The bird has no need at all to speak of freedom. [End Page 34]
Gao Xing 高兴 was born in Jiangsu province in 1963 and graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. In addition to writing poems and essays, he has translated Milan Kundera, Ismail Kadare, Tomaz Salamun, and others into Chinese. He is the deputy editor-in-chief of the Chinese journal World Literature.
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).
Frank Stewart is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award. His edited books include The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry (2004). His translations, with Michelle Yeh, are included in Hawk of the Mind: Collected Poems of Yang Mu (2018). He has also translated I, Snow Leopard by Jidi Majia (2016); other translations have appeared in Chinese Poetry Today, World Literature Today, and Harvard Review On-line: "Omniglots."
Liang Yujing grew up in China and is a doctral candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the Chinese translator of Best New Zealand Poems 2014 and the English translator of Zero Distance: New Poetry from China.