By Ya Shi

Translated by Nick Admussen

from Issue 25


Note: This poem accompanies poems by Ya Shi found in Issue 25 and also translated by Nick Admussen.

Cresting this rouge-hued slope of oil slate
You can see the lakewater      a secluded place
green brush on the shore so thick you can’t get your foot in
as if it wants to pile all its static outside its consciousness
I’m surprised that there is not one tendril of mist atop it
water so blue      that it pricks at the eyes of flying birds
I think                  that this is the mirror I dreamed of in childhood
made by the will of the vast and continuous stars
but never, ever consenting to raise the slightest wave:
if you put your hands into its silent, motionless water
that pure, broad winter chill         couldn’t it bite off your greedy
hands at the wrist like an invisible fire? Think it over
the valley has taken the cold and each day into one warm embrace
endured through long years         without a hint of fatigue —

Ya Shi is a poet from Sichuan Province. He has published both official and unofficial poetry collections and has edited the influential underground magazine Poetry Mirror. He currently teaches mathematics at a university outside the city of Chengdu.

Nick Admussen is an assistant professor of Chinese literature at Cornell University. His collected translations of Ya Shi are forthcoming in Floral Mutter, a book from Zephyr Press; his first scholarly monograph is titled Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry. He is the author of four chapbooks of poetry, with the most recent forthcoming from the Two of Cups Press.

Original text: Ya Shi. “Kuizeng,” “Da Gu,” “Xiangzheng,” “Shouhu Shen.” From Ya Shi Shixuan. Wuhan: Changjiang Wenyi Chubanshe, 2007.

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