from Cross River . Pick Lotus

Zhang Er

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9

 

How to describe sea

To someone who’s never seen it?

 

He lives to ninety-nine, he wants it, to see it

To walk on its glass surface, to blow the seven trumpets.

 

At this joyous moment gigantic angel wings

Write prophecy all over the sky. How can I tell him 

 

About sea storms, the chocking waves

These things, right and wrong, that happen between us?

 

The prophecy he can’t read is the world, tears

That become sea, sea that dries to salt.

 

On the brink of imagination, he’s walking

Faster than us, a shadow white as our rumpled sheets.

 

Lick clean the moist forehead, the indescribable saltiness of the body

Building exercises that take the whole afternoon.

 

Resist the current, the waist laden with water sustains

A thousand years of sediment. The love that can’t be contained.

 

He drifts downstream, pursues 

Nothing. He enters the sea before us. 

Translated from the Chinese by Rachel Levitsky.

Zhang er, “Cross River . Pick Lotus” from THE ECCO ANTHOLOGY OF INTERNATIONAL POETRY. Copyright © 2010 by Zhang Er. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

 

Source:  THE ECCO ANTHOLOGY OF INTERNATIONAL POETRY (Words Without Borders, 2010)