Like this, I look into your eyes,
and keep looking while
I gently take the cotton out of your mouth.
Your lips are still soft,
your tomb is empty,
your blood burns my outstretched hands.
Death, cold and cruel, makes me sit alone
in the September sun,
incapable of feeling sad.
Any kind of tomb
will seem frivolous
to freedom-loving you.
Mid-autumn, every year,
lanterns float on the river,
but they can’t call your soul back.
Your eyes cold, you sit
on the nether-boat that sails under Kafka’s pen
looking out at the absurd world.
The toasts for the centennial of Peking University
make you laugh and sneer.
Drink drink drink,
this is blood,
you say in the darkness.
9/1998translated from Chinese by Ming Di & Jennifer Stern