Wheat Seedlings
by Eleanor Goodman, translating from the Chinese by Wang Xiaoni

copyright © Chinese Copyright © 2014 by Wang Xiaoni / English Translation and Foreword Copyright © 2014 by Eleanor Goodman

On the mountainside field after field of wheat seedlings shiver
the farther up the more they tremble
the mountain will soon shake itself apart.

Spring borrows the wind
to spread a fear of heights even farther.
It seems a transparent weapon is hidden in the heart of the sky
it seems danger wants to drop down and stab us.

There is a bundle of light walking about
the sun is preparing to make the green even greener.
The wheat seedlings ooze bile in fear
one by one the mountaintops connect, light up.

The wheat keeps spreading into the pitch-black towns
the bread steamed on the fire breaks open.
Those who have eaten their fill go outside
to turn up a roiling red clay tail.
The red tail’s human leader also strolls up to the mountaintop
the only thing on earth that seems timid is the wheat.

The green color’s fear is of the hoe.
It’s of the piercing bright blade of the sickle.
And it’s of us, the flour-eaters.