Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Somehow - Hsia Yü

She took a fan and painted a bird on one side
And a cage on the other and then she spun
The handle in her hand till we could see the bird
In the cage and then she put the fan away and smiling
Asked us what we thought it was she’d said

I love you we said but that was wrong she said and then
We said I love you not but that was wrong
As well and then she took us home

Roaches flourish in these aging north-facing flats
She enlightened us as to the many places they infest
The belly of the fax machine
The interstices of the TV
The tape well of the answering machine
All those places warmed the year long by electricity
Did we have any conception? No, not really

All that we could think of was how nice it would be
If we too could worm our way into the hi-fi
And make our indolent bed there where the music pours out
On all those mornings which we dub the limitations of the age
When we are bathed in the radiance we say
Let all good things converge
Let our pain be our strength and at any moment let us
Be prepared to show our guests the bruises on our hips
And the scratches on our backs as we recite those
Words from somewhere ‘L’amour n’existe pas,
Mais la preuve d’amour existe’

Every time we went to her flat it had that
Look of having been ransacked by thieves
And indeed a thief did finally pay a call
And the conspiracy they hatched was this
He took only things she did not need so she never knew he took them
More importantly he helped her rummage up the things she’d lost
And so whenever we went to her flat after that
She had that look upon her face of ‘Well, why not?’

Hsia Yü (born 1956) Taiwan
Translated by Steve Bradbury
Source: Jacket Vol 8, July 1999

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