Translated by Eleanor Goodman
from Issue 22
Finally wearing an old man’s glasses. Words both close and far
suddenly become clear. The blurry world
suddenly becomes clear, as clear as a childhood obsession —
squatting, my face toward the earth
I watch ants transporting food, in their seconds-hand hastiness
forgetting the sky exists
a bird darts by from the window
I raise my head, gaze far out, I’m enveloped by dizziness, want to vomit
Li Li was born in Shanghai in 1961. He moved to Sweden in 1988 to study contemporary Swedish literature at Stockholm University. In 1989, he published a book of poems in Swedish called Visions in Water, and subsequently published Escape, Return, You Are My Home , and Origin, among other poetry collections. He has won many poetry awards, including the 2008 The Sweden Daily’s Award for Literature and the inaugural Clock Kingdom Award. In addition to introducing Chinese poetry to Swedish readers, he has also translated Tomas Transtromer’s complete works into Chinese.
Eleanor Goodman writes fiction, poetry and criticism, and translates from Chinese. Her work has appeared widely in journals such as PN Review, Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, The Guardian, and The Best American Poetry website. She is a Research Associate at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
Original text: Li Li, from Greek and Roman Catholic Songs and Nursery Rhymes, 1986-2009. Moscow: Vremya, 2011.