Eleanor Goodman and Wang Xiaoni read from Something Crosses My Mind
Meeting Death’s Envoy on a Winter Afternoon
That messenger with his hands tucked in the sleeves of his silver jacket.
From across the table, we watch
red navel oranges roll all over the table.
The light leaps over to illuminate me
outside the palm trees look like flattened corpses
ancient warriors receiving their punishment.
He’s nondescript, a faithful man
one who could be called trustworthy.
Behind silence’s back silence speaks quickly
as though signing off on a timetable for the future.
I still can’t tunnel out from my insides.
It’s no good to run
no good to struggle
no good to leap away.
The most I can do is to try to move heaven and earth
is to sit lazily in this listless afternoon.
Time has treated me badly
all I can do is shun him.
The moon rises, goes to ring its small gong
I open the door, and Death’s messenger and I part ways
I use dusk’s last light to send him off.
From Something Crosses My Mind by Eleanor Goodman translating from Chinese by Wang Xiaoni
Copyright © Eleanor Goodman 2014