Once upon a time
we used to talk about a bird—
a bird from nowhere
brought us levity  
and laughter.

One winter night—yes
it was a winter night—a bird
came to us while we were soundly
sleeping. Neither of us saw it.
In the morning we saw—sun on glass—
its small shadow printed, staying
for a long time, refusing to leave.

Then, we started to hate winter,
the long slumber.
We put a red lamp outside
so its light would tell our bird
we were waiting.

Then vines full of grapes grew
in our yard. We kept the windows
open, remembering: bird.

One Sunday, the sky was
overcast, but it wasn’t raining.
We went out together and bought
me a new blouse from a boutique.

When it got dark, we went
to a crowded restaurant
and each had two bowls of dumplings.
On the way back we
were quiet, not saying a word,
feeling slightly uneasy.

Arriving home, we saw
the lamp flickering in the yard
and a handful of green grapes on the porch.
We stopped walking
and looked up then
together lowered our heads—
the bird had come and gone. We murmured
but didn’t dare to speak
worried it would never return.

The door was open
and red light streamed out.
There was a piece of paper with pre-written lines,
although you couldn’t write a word.
I wanted to try on my new clothes
but I couldn’t undress.

The bird, again, the bird.

5.1983

我们
在很久以前
就常常说起那只鸟
不知道来自哪里的鸟
我们兴致勃勃
它给我们带来了笑声

冬天的一个晚上
是晚上,它真的来了
我们睡得很沉
谁也没有看见它
就在有太阳的早晨
我们看见它留在玻璃上的
小小的影子
它印在那里
好久不肯离去

我们讨厌冬天了
讨厌冬天长长的睡眠
我们想让红色的灯
长久地亮着
告诉那只鸟
我们在等待

院里的葡萄
又爬满架子了
窗子不再关上
我们仍然记得那只鸟

一个星期天
天阴沉沉的,没有雨
我们一起出门了
去时装店给我买了一件新衣服
天黑下来的时候,又去
那个人很多的馄饨铺子
一人吃了两大碗馄饨
回来的路上
我们不吭声了
心里觉得有点不舒服

到家了
院子里那盏灯忽明忽暗
一串青青的葡萄落在台阶上
我们同时止住了步子
望了望天
又赶紧低下了头
它来过了
可我们不敢说
只是在心里想着
生怕它永远不再来了

门终于开了
红色的光神秘地铺开
在有格子的纸上
你写不出字了
我想试一试新衣服
却怎么也解不开扣子

它又来过了

1983.5.




Liu XiaLiu Xia

Liu Xia (1961- ), Chinese poet, artist, and photographer, was born and grew up in Beijing, and worked as a civil servant for the Beijing tax bureau. She started writing poetry in 1982 and met Liu Xiaobo at a literary gathering. She married Xiaobo when he was imprisoned in 1996. Liu Xia has been under house arrest since her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, while Liu Xiaobo himself is serving the eleven-year sentence in a prison in the northeast China.

Translated from ChineseChinese by Ming DiMing Di and by Jennifer SternJennifer Stern

Ming Di is a poet, translator, and editor of New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Tupelo Press, co-published by Poetry Foundation, 2013). She received a Henry Luce Foundation fellowship in 2013.

Jennifer Stern is an American poet and translator.