Strawberry Pie
by Xia Yu
---To j and 1983

In the afternoon, we were eating a strawberry pie together,
I waited for him to kiss me. In the evening, the sky was blue
mixed with violet. All the roofs were
red and yellow.
Some streets had flags, some
were full of balloons. Some people were shot.
The radio said
a penguin had walked away from the zoo
in an old-fashioned gentleman pace.
Before all the sleep-walkers came back
I conjured a spell to his silent lips:
Open, Sesame
Open, Sesame
(I begin to like ellipsis)
My childhood was too long.
I didn't grow up
before I become old. I begin to like ellipsis.
The missing penguin found refuge
in a bathtub
Morning rushed in like a rhino. Flowers and mistakes
were in the middle of the room. And now we have ham and eggs.
The spreading flavour of ham reminds me of some
ancient and familiar distress. I am extremely
worried, about things left unfinished because of him,
about things known as loneliness and freedom.
He leads me into
the stockroom of memory and says, "you see,
they were bought before I met you,
those fragile plates."
In the afternoon, we were eating a strawberry pie together,
and slowly sinking into
an uncertain time.
--- Translated from the Chinese by Chen Dandan
Winner of the Joseph Brodsky/
Stephen Spender Prize 2014
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