In the dusty ancestral hall,
a lingering shadow
doesn’t want to leave.
Is that blurred face you, grandfather?
For years, through my myopic
eyes, I’ve tried to seek your hands, to touch
the years I had never passed through.
In dreams, only, I arrive at your house.
I know you exist.
Your yellowed youth in old photos
looks alien in this
When I’m alone, I often see you
holding my hand. Together
we walk through book
which fills me with chilling grief.
Nobody shares the details
of your life, as if you lived
before the ice age. It’s impossible
for me to become an archaeologist.
I can only put my whole self
into giving you back
to these thin, frail words.
In your old house, do you feel
of fresh air,
2/1997translated from Chinese by Ming Di & Jennifer Stern