- Mountain Spring, and: Hometown Wind
Old mother never went back to our hometown.She often spoke to us as if in dream:In this highland where the buckwheat grows,a person misses bracing spring water.
No wonder she would sit alone at the window,wondering from what place a bird had flown.She would watch a cloud for a long timeuntil it disappeared where the wind blew.
No one can change life's background color:A fireplace hisses under the tile roofand courtyard roosters crow constantly.
In fact, a person can have simple needsthat are more difficult than touching sky.She can't drink the heart-water of that spring. [End Page 51]
Mother often thinks of wind from home.When this happens, she will sketch the wind.No wonder in the epics of our tribeeternal wind is planted in stone words.
Wind from the abysmal universepasses through the void of wheat on earth.Wind is the gate between our life and death.Who can predict its future and direction?
Mother said, If you can know the languageof wind, you'll know why our Yi people's fluteproduces such naively cryptic sound.
The wind still blows and I am a wind listener.Today I start to get it, vaguely.Wind is the only immortality. [End Page 52]
Jidi Majia 吉狄马加 is a Yi-Nuosu poet, born in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in 1961. He came to national attention when his book Song of My First Love won the Third China National Poetry Prize, in 1988. His work has been translated into over twenty languages and published in over thirty countries. His most recent international awards include the Bucharest Poetry Prize (2017) and the Ianicius Prize of Poland (2017).
Tony Barnstone is a professor of English and environmental studies at Whittier College. A prolific poet, author, essayist, and literary translator, he is the author of twenty books. His latest poetry book is Pulp Sonnets (2015). His books of co-translation include Mother Is a Bird: Sonnets by a Yi Poet (2017), River Merchant's Wife by Ming Di (2012), Chinese Erotic Poems (2007), The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry (2005), and Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry (1993). Among his honors are fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and the California Arts Council. He has won the Grand Prize of the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Pushcart Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the John Ciardi Prize.
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).