Translated by John Minford
The jar you sent had just arrived, stood still unopened,
When the grim tidings blew in from the grey clouds
North of your coast. The earth’s contractions
Had brought forth a tsunami. A hotel swallowed in an instant.
A train thrown from its tracks, continuing derailed, driverless
On a journey from this life to the next.
The ocean suddenly overhead. Human lives
Oilslick-black, flotsam doors, provisions adrift, homeless…
I open the tightly-sealed jar. Pickled garlic.
What is this taste? A bitterness
Buried deep in layers of mud? A harshness of trees broken apart?
A stench of ocean, shattered coral, fish floating belly-up?
What does it speak of, your message, wafted my way this sunny afternoon?
Of something brewing in the dark? Of something growing in turmoil?
Of pity and cruelty, glimpsed in the heaving motions of nature?
Can a drop of sweetness temper the infinite brine of this world’s woe!
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