Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You
To sleep with you or to be slept, what’s the difference if there’s any?
Two bodies collide – the force, the flower pushed open by
the virtual spring in the flowering – nothing more than this
and this we mistake as life restarting. In half of China
things are happening: volcanoes
erupting, rivers running dry,
political prisoners and displaced workers abandoned,
elk deer and red-crowned cranes shot.
I cross the hail of bullets to sleep with you.
I press many nights into one morning to sleep with you.
I run across many of me and many of me run into one to sleep
Yet I can be misled by butterflies of course
and mistake praise as spring,
a village like Hengdian as home. But all these,
all of these are absolutely indispensable
reasons that I sleep with you.
“Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You” by Yu Xiuhua, translated by Ming Di. Used with permission of the translator. Poem translation originally published by World Literature Today. All rights reserved.