There Were Two Sleepless Nights

There were two sleepless nights
that carried the sound of imaginary footsteps
little by little
I sat up in bed
I opened the door
I saw you
your hair was damp
the unripe flavor of tree leaves
are you my olive tree
or are you my pigeon
are you my
straw hat forgotten in Spain
or the unpronounceable name of Roman airport

Where were you grown, carrot
what flavor of coffee are you
are you the water in sugar?
Do you stay here
for the sake of moonlight underfoot
or for sunny cliffs

Beijing has brightened
its alleyways
for me
are a freshly spread map
I seem to not have a reason
to feel depressed over you

Because you
are brighter than they
Your ordinary love
is brighter than all of them
and it hurts my eyes

There is nothing I can do to make you fade away
if you do not agree
I am unable to make you nod or shake your head
Like a naughty student put in the corner
I willingly
accept your damp kiss

By Wu Ang
translated, from the Chinese, by Leah House

Leah House is majoring in Asian Studies with a concentration on Chinese language at the University of Michigan. She also studies Spanish Literature.

Wu Ang is a female contemporary Chinese poet born in China’s Fujian Province in 1974. She later attended Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University, and proceeded to attain a postgraduate degree in contemporary Chinese fiction at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Her writing is recognized by its simplicity in vocabulary which she says is because she feels complicated words take away from a poem’s main ideas.