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.

Evening I lie down like a guttering flame
listen to the insects outside the stone house approach and recede
if it’s early spring      then the atmosphere clenches
covering the beetle crackle that will become blossoms on leaves
having been backhanded daily by the mountain wind
this stone house is dimming in color and growing calm.
Something will scuttle across the humming roof
green eyes fluorescing            dancing under moonlight
have they ever appreciated the valley’s unbroken looping?
When it is as if all is thinking            what will be my offering
as when sweet mountain spring water churns in the belly
rises up      becomes the valley’s vast temperature…
O      it is so fine to retain a natural and fluent courtesy
I lay down         hear the secret heat of the heavy flame of living things

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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