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)