憐葉 Leaf Pity

Translated by Kwok Kwan Mun, Lo Kwai Cheung, John Minford  

It has not withered
but is made acrid and flighty
by the sounds of a torrid summer

Spread upon the broad leaf,
are the spots that slowly multiply -
light red or faded brown?
Specks of dust and bruises
gentle arcs dried to a craggy skeleton
criss-crossing, shielding a spot of green in the centre

Well-meaning raindrops are excluded
petty spider-webs and ankles of craneflies
are closer
still it does not spread itself out easily
for the dragonflies and flies.
Even the beckoning of the wind seems an offence

Curling its muddy veins
standing quietly upon the water
it reposes in a faint fragrance of its own


Summer 1983





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