A narrow path to the shore flickers across the water’s face. I will gather time and smiles along the way. My eyes slide down the sky’s long green corridor. The setting sun is a distant bee’s nest: their wings beat gold on the water, fanning my dreams on the silent shore.
Dusk spreads slowly. Its colors slip beneath my hand. Like a shadow revealing its every thought—ripples on my cold, clear heart. Grass, clumped and idle, turns a deeper green. As I wait in silence, crickets on the shore sing my age.
My heart follows the shimmering path, gathering the fruit of the lotus. I bury my face in the shade of the seed pod. I stop at the water’s edge: the forest disperses a flock of my thoughts. A long bench, exquisite and tranquil. The bell of my youth tolling in moonlight.
How soft and susceptible the years have grown. Lotus petals flutter down as I chant my loneliness. Lines of poetry torn from my fingertips leave traces of light along summer’s evening boulevard. I am too full of joy to make anything happen: Lying in a boat amidst so much green, seeking the lit path that shines through the night.
translated by Hil Anderson and Sue Ellen Tompson
Poet Xue Di is a native of Beijing who left China after taking part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tian’anmen Square; he has been a fellow in Brown’s Freedom to Write program since 1990. Since coming to Providence, Xue Di has published three books in English translation, Flames (paradigm press, 1995), a cycle of poems dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh, Heart into Soil (Burning Deck/Lost Roads Press, 1998), and Circumstances (Duration Press, 2000). Three volumes of Xue Di’s collected works, prepared for publication in mainland China in 1999, were stopped in press due to governmental censorship. In the same year, Xue Di received a grant from the Joukowsky Foundation that has allowed him to remain at Brown and continue his writing.