Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Ming Di

Family story

Once upon a tree my family
was a legend of woods with ten Suns
above, burning at night. Grandma
couldn't sleep, so each night

gave birth to a child until
there were no more leaves to feed
them. Grandpa was mad, chased the Suns
and shot nine of them, leaving one

midair, telling the story.
Once upon a story, the Sun
went down a stump and climbed up
in the morning, to see my grandma,

the woman who lay there like a mountain.
Grandpa grew angry, trying to kill
the last Sun, but had a thunder-stroke.
Died. The sky broke, raining

for ten thousand years. Grief.
All the drowned children rose
to the surface of water as lilies. Grandma
rose up so high, she patched the hole

in the sky. Sun rose, following her,
with his yellow eye
for five thousand years, day and night.
Day and night.

Grandma got bored. She beat clay 
into humans with sunny faces and eyes
of stars sprouting around.
One of them was my father

in Tang China, a bastard
with many names. He was drunken Li Po,
singing toward an imagined moon.
He was Tu Fu, naked in the dust.

Once upon a Li Po, there was no Moon
He wrote one and a white
boat appeared. Once upon a Tu Fu,
there were no rivers. He painted one,

Yellow River started to flow
in the central land. He painted again,
Yangtze River started to run across the sky.
All the ancient rivers, up and down,

ran to the East, with a wave of his hand,
even the wind and reeds waved
in one direction. In boredom he cut the land
into square fields and grew rice.

Once upon a rice field, my mother
came down a sky ladder, jasmine flowers
sparkling. Father was shy to walk up, 
unsure which name to use.

He hesitated. Mother walked down
with a long leaf dress that
trailed moonlight, a hundred years
of namelessness. She held out

her hand, and touched
my father – I've never met him – he died
the moment my mother touched him.
He turned to a stone, immortal.

Once upon a stone, people mate
by simply touching hands or gazing
into the eyes. I was born of this woman
from the Moon – she held out her hand,

lit me, a chrysanthemum, a wild
flower – I opened my earthly eyes
and saw her in my own light,
rising, back to the cold height.

My name is Sun-Moon, in memory
of a light from two distant stones
that resist each other, denying love.
I arrive in a new country and

see my father's gravestones
everywhere, my shadow in the sky.
At night, my mother
appears there too. It’s April,

the sky is low and I can feel her
breathing, but can’t see myself,
my yellow petals. I write the word
Sun, and there comes a Sun

of my color. I write the word Moon,
there comes a Moon of my lonely
ancestor. My language of oracle bones,
my words pictographic – I give some

to America, A miracle happens –
every flower of every tree opens
its eyes that seem to see my parents,
my parents in me – they live

in my skin. Once upon my skin,
there is a shadow. Once upon a shadow,
there is a tree and then light. There’s always
a shadow before light comes along.

家谱

家谱

从前有个森林,我的家族是一棵树,
头顶十个太阳,每天夜里燃烧——
奶奶睡不着,每天后半夜生一个孩子,
直到把树叶喂光。

爷爷不高兴,捡起树枝赶太阳,
一气赶走九个,留一个悬在空中,每天讲故事。
从前有个故事,太阳一到夜里
就躲进树桩,早上爬出来,看我年轻的奶奶——

神农架的女人,躺着像座山,
血脉旺盛,养过许多孩子,
太阳着迷,无法将火热的注视
从她身上移开。爷爷气疯了,想杀死

最后一个太阳,一不小心闪电中风,
永垂了。天空裂开——我家
倾盆大雨一万年,所有的孩子淹没于洪水,
变成水葫芦。奶奶终于站起——

她站起来竟然那么高,一身香气
堵死了天上的洞。洪水走了,天下安宁,
太阳又升起,用浅黄色的光,照耀我奶奶,
一照五千年——日复一日。

日复一日。奶奶觉得无聊,用粘土和碎石
捏人,捏出许许多多,太阳的皮肤,夜的眼睛——
八八六十四一把撒出去,日夜繁殖。
其中一个是我父亲,

唐国杂种,辈分混乱,
他饮酒,吟唱无中生有的月亮和女人,
他苦闷,感叹风沙和灰尘。
从前有一棵李白,头顶没有月亮,

他用力一想,月亮就为他升起。从前有一株杜甫,
身边没有河流,他画一条,黄河
就在平原流动。他又画一条,长江
就在天上奔涌。古时候的河,上上下下

全都听他的——他手一挥,
河水就一起向东流,流入东海,
连风和芦苇都朝一个方向摆动——他觉得无聊,
回家务农,把天地切成方块,种起水稻和小麦。

有天晚上我母亲从月球上,沿着梯田走下来,
一身茉莉,发出织女星的光,
父亲迎上去,但不知用哪一个名字
面对她。犹豫着。母亲继续往下走,

一袭白裙,拖着百年孤独的光。
她伸出手碰一下我父亲——我从未见过他——
我母亲触碰他的一瞬间,
他变成石头,不朽了。从前有个石头,

那里的人野合,只需用手触摸,或用眼光对视,
眼光,眼神,眼力,碰一下
就生,就死,就爱,就生死不相往来——
这个月亮上的女人,生下我,如同点亮

一朵野菊——我睁开眼,看见她,在自己的光里
看见她往上飘,飘回冷寒的高空,手中抱着断弦琵琶。
我的名字就是琵琶,一种光
两个源头,互相擦亮,互相弹响

死不认账——死不安宁。我来到一个新国家,
到处都是巨大的石头,石碑,石像,整个春天
是死亡的气息。我抬起头
一眼看见我母亲——

四月,天空低垂,我闻到她的呼吸——
她的琴音
坠落于山坡。异国的山坡,我写太阳,太阳升起,
我写月亮,月亮不再消失——

我的甲骨文,我的象形字
点石成花——这个季节,死亡不会再死一次——
每一棵树上的花,都开出眼睛,看见
我祖先在野菊丛中——他们不死于我的肤色。

肤色总是有阴影,
阴影之上总是有棵树,
树上总是有光。
每一棵树都有阴影,然后是光。

Close

Family story

Once upon a tree my family
was a legend of woods with ten Suns
above, burning at night. Grandma
couldn't sleep, so each night

gave birth to a child until
there were no more leaves to feed
them. Grandpa was mad, chased the Suns
and shot nine of them, leaving one

midair, telling the story.
Once upon a story, the Sun
went down a stump and climbed up
in the morning, to see my grandma,

the woman who lay there like a mountain.
Grandpa grew angry, trying to kill
the last Sun, but had a thunder-stroke.
Died. The sky broke, raining

for ten thousand years. Grief.
All the drowned children rose
to the surface of water as lilies. Grandma
rose up so high, she patched the hole

in the sky. Sun rose, following her,
with his yellow eye
for five thousand years, day and night.
Day and night.

Grandma got bored. She beat clay 
into humans with sunny faces and eyes
of stars sprouting around.
One of them was my father

in Tang China, a bastard
with many names. He was drunken Li Po,
singing toward an imagined moon.
He was Tu Fu, naked in the dust.

Once upon a Li Po, there was no Moon
He wrote one and a white
boat appeared. Once upon a Tu Fu,
there were no rivers. He painted one,

Yellow River started to flow
in the central land. He painted again,
Yangtze River started to run across the sky.
All the ancient rivers, up and down,

ran to the East, with a wave of his hand,
even the wind and reeds waved
in one direction. In boredom he cut the land
into square fields and grew rice.

Once upon a rice field, my mother
came down a sky ladder, jasmine flowers
sparkling. Father was shy to walk up, 
unsure which name to use.

He hesitated. Mother walked down
with a long leaf dress that
trailed moonlight, a hundred years
of namelessness. She held out

her hand, and touched
my father – I've never met him – he died
the moment my mother touched him.
He turned to a stone, immortal.

Once upon a stone, people mate
by simply touching hands or gazing
into the eyes. I was born of this woman
from the Moon – she held out her hand,

lit me, a chrysanthemum, a wild
flower – I opened my earthly eyes
and saw her in my own light,
rising, back to the cold height.

My name is Sun-Moon, in memory
of a light from two distant stones
that resist each other, denying love.
I arrive in a new country and

see my father's gravestones
everywhere, my shadow in the sky.
At night, my mother
appears there too. It’s April,

the sky is low and I can feel her
breathing, but can’t see myself,
my yellow petals. I write the word
Sun, and there comes a Sun

of my color. I write the word Moon,
there comes a Moon of my lonely
ancestor. My language of oracle bones,
my words pictographic – I give some

to America, A miracle happens –
every flower of every tree opens
its eyes that seem to see my parents,
my parents in me – they live

in my skin. Once upon my skin,
there is a shadow. Once upon a shadow,
there is a tree and then light. There’s always
a shadow before light comes along.

Family story

Once upon a tree my family
was a legend of woods with ten Suns
above, burning at night. Grandma
couldn't sleep, so each night

gave birth to a child until
there were no more leaves to feed
them. Grandpa was mad, chased the Suns
and shot nine of them, leaving one

midair, telling the story.
Once upon a story, the Sun
went down a stump and climbed up
in the morning, to see my grandma,

the woman who lay there like a mountain.
Grandpa grew angry, trying to kill
the last Sun, but had a thunder-stroke.
Died. The sky broke, raining

for ten thousand years. Grief.
All the drowned children rose
to the surface of water as lilies. Grandma
rose up so high, she patched the hole

in the sky. Sun rose, following her,
with his yellow eye
for five thousand years, day and night.
Day and night.

Grandma got bored. She beat clay 
into humans with sunny faces and eyes
of stars sprouting around.
One of them was my father

in Tang China, a bastard
with many names. He was drunken Li Po,
singing toward an imagined moon.
He was Tu Fu, naked in the dust.

Once upon a Li Po, there was no Moon
He wrote one and a white
boat appeared. Once upon a Tu Fu,
there were no rivers. He painted one,

Yellow River started to flow
in the central land. He painted again,
Yangtze River started to run across the sky.
All the ancient rivers, up and down,

ran to the East, with a wave of his hand,
even the wind and reeds waved
in one direction. In boredom he cut the land
into square fields and grew rice.

Once upon a rice field, my mother
came down a sky ladder, jasmine flowers
sparkling. Father was shy to walk up, 
unsure which name to use.

He hesitated. Mother walked down
with a long leaf dress that
trailed moonlight, a hundred years
of namelessness. She held out

her hand, and touched
my father – I've never met him – he died
the moment my mother touched him.
He turned to a stone, immortal.

Once upon a stone, people mate
by simply touching hands or gazing
into the eyes. I was born of this woman
from the Moon – she held out her hand,

lit me, a chrysanthemum, a wild
flower – I opened my earthly eyes
and saw her in my own light,
rising, back to the cold height.

My name is Sun-Moon, in memory
of a light from two distant stones
that resist each other, denying love.
I arrive in a new country and

see my father's gravestones
everywhere, my shadow in the sky.
At night, my mother
appears there too. It’s April,

the sky is low and I can feel her
breathing, but can’t see myself,
my yellow petals. I write the word
Sun, and there comes a Sun

of my color. I write the word Moon,
there comes a Moon of my lonely
ancestor. My language of oracle bones,
my words pictographic – I give some

to America, A miracle happens –
every flower of every tree opens
its eyes that seem to see my parents,
my parents in me – they live

in my skin. Once upon my skin,
there is a shadow. Once upon a shadow,
there is a tree and then light. There’s always
a shadow before light comes along.
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