Translated by Gordon T. Osing
Clouds rolling like waves toward me, summoning
at every moment whole changes in the depth of the sky,
erase the reds and pinks and mauves of dawn---
clouds flailing dark arms, too,
laboring to change heaven and earth,
as if to call out into the open fears secure in gloom,
revealed as merely a silent debate of languages.
This scene blurs into gray, things lose their shapes
as the front moves into cancel what's out there on the edges.
Is this, too, violence? Mercy? Fear or consolation?
In a heart made desolate white snakes of lightening
jump from some on-high into the abyss of earth.
The same colorless color is everywhere,
all a bruise, one doesn't know a native from a foreign land.
In my room we Chinese all gather from all over
but our former life's language, spoken, has altered meanings.
Changeable weather has cancelled
the new age we all created only yesterday.
How shall we proceed with today's stories?
Nothing's the same; the center people brought from mainland
has joined everything else in the periphery, some heavy luggage
having become inexplicably light, that old life
fragmented, minding now with accents and dialects
circling some Babel suddenly there in the mist.
I wake to find heaven and earth indeed changed.
In my half-living in the mists the gone ones speak
and return to mist. I think of the ones we know
scattered about in the world, enduring storms.
A broken-off aftermath of words lingers at the edge of the mouth,
mixes with the new world's sounds to make yet another language.
In a blue, clearing sky the torn clouds
scatter around the skyscrapers of this foreign land.
(Chicago, July 1991)
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