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WEN, Yiduo

Dead Water

Here is a ditch of hopeless water,

The fresh breeze would not even raise half a ripple.

One might as well throw in a few more tins and scraps of metal

And why not pour in your left-over food and gravy

Perhaps the green of the copper will turn into emerald,

Rust on the tin cans emerge as petals of peach blossom;

Then let grease weave a layer of patterned muslin,

And bacteria brew vapours of coloured clouds.

Let the dead water ferment into a gully of green wine,

Floating pearl-like crowds of white foam;

The laughter of small pearls will change them to large pearls

Broken by mosquitoes to steal the alcohol.

Even a ditch of hopeless dead water

Can boast of some ornaments.

If the green frogs can’t bear the silence,

Then we can say that the dead water can sing.

Here is a ditch of hopeless dead water,

This cannot be a place where beauty lives,

Better let ugliness cultivate it,

And see what kind of world comes of it.

Transl. Tao Tao Sanders.