Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Ouyang Jianghe Poem


In the quiet of your living room we talked for an hour.
Wide vistas, transparence. Always
at times like these, I look back, see—
a beautiful face flashes
and is gone. An hour of winter
reflected in sunset. We say our goodbyes.
Outside, it's getting dark. Lights
are on in your house, and in all the other houses.

To have seen that face: such pain,
such joy. So many faces before, each
its own kind of incoherent and brief.
An hour is enough: living room
leads to kitchen, to a small cold hand
laying out plates for a meal years before
I reached out my hand to touch
your silver tableware.

Hour of silver, hour of chill.
Face flashes and is gone.
Always at times like these I look back—
The room is bright. A beautiful face
is not a thing that light can reveal.
Deep-hidden face, soundless conversation
in shadow. A single hour—
ten years ago, would we have talked all night?

An hour's tenderness, held back like tears.
The years I have left will speed faster
than this hour. To vanish
is happiness: Flash, face. Be gone.
Always at times like these,
darkness falls. A child pouts,
and someone taps at the door.

(2012) Tr. Austin Woerner

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