Wu Ang – Four Poems

Read Paper Republic – A Month of Women Poets

Wu Ang, one of China's most notable contemporary poets and authors, was born in Fujian Province in 1974. She later attended Fudan University, and attained a postgraduate degree in contemporary Chinese fiction at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In addition to being a poet and novelist, Wu Ang is also known for her work as a former journalist and columnist. Her current focus is on Sù Writing Centre, an initiative that supports new and unpublished writers —“when written out,” Wu Ang explains, “the character sù [宿] represents a hundred [] people [] under one roof []”— which she founded in 2015. Wu Ang’s poetry is distinctive for the ways in which it blends a wry observational wit with understated poignance and finely modulated shades of emotion. Her poems engage with a broad range of themes, from death and ageing to love and sexuality. This selection of works, previously unpublished in English translation, are drawn from the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the exception of ‘Sculpture Theatre’, which was written in 2021.

Transnational marriage

A tongue from a developed country
Falls into a developing mouth
There, it finds the hygiene problematic
The dentists irresponsible
A cotton-ball from years ago
Still exuding residual warmth in a cranny
Sheepishly wishes to make an exit
But is clamped onto by the tips of uneven teeth

In the name of love
In the name of profound and all-encompassing love
Please remain
Until all the innuendo has passed
Then, we will be more equal
Despite messier
Appearances

跨国婚姻

来自发达国家的舌头
掉进发展中的嘴里
它发现,那里的医疗卫生有问题
牙医很不负责
一块多年以前的棉花球
还在某个缝隙里发散余温
它讪讪着想要退出
却被残缺不全的尖齿咬住
以爱情的名义
以博大精深的爱情的名义
请在这里一直呆到
风声完全过去
那时候,我们更平等
哪怕衣冠
更不整

Breasts

Before the mirror, the menstrual period
They subtly swell
From a pair of soft organs they become two thinkers
The two of them chittering and chattering, getting closer and closer
Calling each other President and Party Secretary
They discuss Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Seeking a mutually amicable resolution

乳房

在镜子前,经前
它们微妙地膨胀
从一对柔软的器官变成两个思想家
两人在对话在对话,越靠越近
互称总统和总书记
他们甚至谈到伊拉克和巴以冲突
以寻求相应的解决方案

Sardines are a cheap variety of fish

People tell me
Sardines are a cheap variety of fish
I know
That is definitely not what the ocean thinks

If I could have seven children
I too would tell the neighbours
Number Three’s finally gotten into Peking University
Looks like Second Daughter will end up marrying that artless
Shuttle driver
Little Five is even better at the high jump now
Next year we’ll get him a new set of sports clothes

I plan these household affairs
That will probably never materialise
Because never again will there be
A husband willing
To bring up seven children
Nor is there a yard
Big enough for them to play in
Where I can glance through the screen
And spot our youngest daughter
Wearing a dress I’ve never seen before
Floral and suspect

I head out
Not needing to take the quietest of them along with me
I lock the door
With no chirping and cheeping of seven chicks from inside

How calm life is
Like the Silkworm Goddess
I can only bring up my beloved sons and daughters
On paper

沙丁鱼是一种廉价的鱼

人们告诉我
沙丁鱼是一种廉价的鱼
我知道
这决不是大海的想法

如果让我拥有七个孩子
我一样会对邻居说
老三终于考上了北京大学
二姑娘看来只能嫁给老实的
班车司机
五儿的跳高水平又长进了
明年给他再买套运动服

我计划中的家政
似乎永远也不可能实现
因为再也没有一个
愿意抚养
七个孩子的丈夫
也没有一个供他们玩耍的
大庭院
让我透过窗纱
一眼就能看到最小的女儿
穿着我从未见过的
可疑的花裙子

我上街
也不用带上他们中间最安静的一个
我锁门
里边没有七只喳喳乱叫的鸟崽

生活如此平静
我只能学蚕花娘娘
在纸上
生养我亲爱的儿女

Sculpture Theatre

Remember that day I placed my feet
Between yours
Like a lizard on a rock
Searching for a climbing route

The bread and milk you brought over
Piled up in the fridge
Life’s specific contents
Have nothing to do with up above

You say that it hurts here
I start to feel a dull ache on one side
You say you slipped and fell over
The ground under my feet
Caves inward a little

You need a lot of caressing
Needed, yet unsaid
After an excessive amount of caresses
I could make a sculpture of you from thin air
With the similarly inexhaustible
Caresses you have given
Are you also making
A sculpture of me?

Place the two sculptures side-by-side
Allow them space to tremble and twitch
The pulmonary lobes begin to contract,
The nostrils breathe, the fingertips slightly stir
They’ll come back to life in the air
And go on to produce replicas of themselves

We can sit in that immense
Replica-filled theatre
Respectively seated at exit and entrance
Observing the multitude of pains and pleasures

Oh dearest
Find me at the entrance once the show is over please

雕塑剧场

记得那天我把脚放在
你的两脚之间
像一只蜥蜴在岩石上
寻找一条攀爬的路

你给我带来的面包和牛奶
堆积在冰箱
那些具体的生活
与天上无关

你说你这里疼
我的另外一侧也开始隐隐作痛
你说你不小心摔在地上
我脚下的地面
凹陷了一点

你需要很多抚摸
需要,而且不说
超量的抚摸过后
我都可以凭空做出一具你的雕塑
你也给予了我同样的
无穷无尽的抚摸
你也正在做
一个关于我的雕塑吗

把这两个雕塑放在一起
让它们试着动弹动弹
肺叶开始翕动,
鼻孔呼吸且指头微微地动弹
它们会在空气中复活
也会做出各自的复制品

我们可以坐在那个巨大的
充满了复制品的剧场
分坐在出口和入口
观摩这众多的疼痛与愉悦

哦亲爱的
散场时请到入口处找我

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