Poems by Shuijing Zhulian

Shuijing Zhulian (1981-). Translated by Simon Patton.

Where the Disappearing Stops  What I’ve Done These Past Few Days  New Lover  Secrets of the Bedroom  Intimacy  Love at First Sight  Waitress X  In Memory of Some Trees  Envy  A Certain Tall Wall 

Where the Disappearing Stops

the first thing to disappear was a name followed by
          endless road-signs
the hand I hold out the window is urged by an opposite wind
   to stay
if it’s not Beijing that becomes a ruin then it has to
          be me
in the joy of my one-woman disappearance, as far as everyone
          in my past is concerned
I am nearly as secret as decease.

through identical entrances we return once again
   to Beijing
Beijing’s clock time Beijing’s air temperature
   Beijing’s anxieties
none of these stop simply because of my momentary dying.

in the time that I’ve been out of town
I have not been mourned
have not be called on
have not been asked after
the sun we use now is the same one we used in the past
once more Beijing has brought me
unforeseen lightness and heartache

What I’ve Done These Past Few Days

I’ve found out night-times are long and slippery
every dream is wringing wet

I’ve found that the cotton you pulled out
          from under my body
was something I can not explain

I’ve found out the scent my body emanates when
          I’m swaying back and forth in a chair
is not as sweet-smelling as you said

I’ve found myself squatting in sunshine’s prison-cells
          busily writing verse
and to all the people I meet I’ve said:
Do not let any poem too easily finish

New Lover

perversely you bring me here to the seaside in imitation
          of my first love
as a silent tribute to my wonderful first-time sweet-heart
I can no longer bend myself without the least precaution
out over the ocean like sea-grass growing ashore
this is part of the ocean a filthier noisier portion
so many years have passed
and thanks to many more first loves and true loves the ocean
          is old and dirty
just like me right now
in new love-affairs far more practised
than this bustling frenetic wharf
here together we process the sea
both still believing
that we’re doing so out of respect

Secrets of the Bedroom

I’ve drunk a little wine
beside me a few simple clues are
all that remain: there to my left I
could reach out and switch on the light
there to my right I
could reach out and touch the pillow
impressed by your head

you still haven’t returned
on the sheet to my left I’m sketching out
an everyday you
reclining upon it
on whatever any day
filled with vicious conceptions and memories
and always I think of those
wounds recently carried off from
busy high-strung excitable streets


it’s been ages since we’ve lain down together
relishing a fine cool breeze blowing in through the window
under the coverlet
my hand rests on your chest
politely seeking its place
your heart-beat is like a freakish sea-tide
breaking against my arm

how quickly one tires of this action
I cannot be certain whether or not you’re comfortable
if the breeze really isn’t that cool
then can I continue to leave my hand where it is
checking all these
incoherent heart-beats?

Love at First Sight

him and I: love at first sight
due to excess yearning
this slice of romance only lasted a day and a twilight
this slice of romance had only just shown up
          jiggling its hips
when it left
right now I can’t recall any of it
right now I’m like someone who’s not ever loved: utterly
          spotless and clean

Waitress X

with Man Y I came to this restaurant
Waitress X
still you were standing in the same old spot
holding spoons, or sometimes not, and just like last time you
loved observing your customers

my handbag you recalled
recalled how I treated other people
still not that old
but no sign of love in my face
you stared at my handbag
I kept on opening and closing it
is this the one thing you’ll keep in
your memory of me—
that opening and closing
for no real reason?

In Memory of Some Trees

several trees
enough to make me feel quite flattered
in big cities there’s no comparable distance
in big cities my viewpoint’s sealed off between
insteps and the eyeballs’ inspections
right now
I must go all out to spy further trees
their calm and serenest greening
passionate greening
brings me—teasingly—good-natured laughter: Look here, you
confident city slicker
Please let go the beasts stowed in your point of view
everything you yourself think cannot be let go off
according to them
is merely another now wind-blown small grove of trees
growing far off in the distance


I notice certain endless-eternal things:
heavens, oceans, grasslands, grass-eating creatures
lacking—with love—even the slightest connection
endless-eternal innocence, appetites
making them careless of heart-break

A Certain Tall Wall

cut off by a wall
one portion of a great ship appears up above the wall
we are forced to welcome this suggestion:
the bit hidden by the wall
is the sea
we are all of us—endlessly, tedious—
imagining it
this wall that we’re imagining
gets higher and higher
longer and longer
it makes us all feel much more dismayed
than real sea would do
fragile sea—o
before I’d looked on you, the thought that intrigued me:
Why was it such a vast colossus could be so effortlessly
hidden away?

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