Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Nhã Thuyên

TASTE OF WATERS

for dead fish everywhere

this river water swirls into the mouth of seawater, salt-like, like you dear, treacly biting, your voice does not conceal its tenderly nurtured regret, i have been swamping my face in a boundaryless span of saltiness soaking and flooding the tongue, waiting on the ferry boat that will bring us both to that side over there, return to the city a couple momentarily strayed bodies, my dear your face opens into a vagina, sweet honey speech pouring down from an episode of sleep-talking besides each other somewhen ago, we need a few adjectives to preserve the taste of this water, or else we'll forget, how should it be, do you want to be closer to sea, or closer to river, my father says, let’s start with rivers, they're obedient, wholesome, familial, their sweetwater waves kind vanilla tame, soundless, how sweet a stretch of sweetwater can be, i insert, but only the sea would do for the life of dreams, its saltwater waves consuming feral euphoric, boisterous, father goes on, living in our country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, i have never known how to be truly buoyed, i cannot swim, just let yourself slowly savor the taste of waters, make peace with them, don’t resist, just float your body, you say, you'll feel water’s taste not stagnantly at the tip of the tongue but flowing adrift and marinating so that after months years a corner of our heart has become eaten out, i demur, let out a snort, i’m bored sick by metaphor, what stagnates, what drifts, what marinates, what eats out, what is a heart, such mouth-worn metaphors, my heart is busy with the adjectives, how the adjectives are, i begrudge the cluttered tangles of language, i don’t like using adjectives to call the names of river or sea, but adjectives already self-transforms into nouns, the state of adjectivity occupies my mind more, such a sorry sound it seems to have, the state, the fate, the condition, the sound of laughter from somewhere in the throat hurls out, your face soaking wet, it’d be more marvelous if your face opened into a vagina, wouldn’t it, but i am hopeless in learning to swim, i say, being water, must it be decidedly salty or sweet, are these adjectives subjected to the fate of water, or the other way around, is water subjected to the fate of those adjectives, what is state, fate, condition, what is water outside of the things a water carries within, what is painful what is pleasurable, what is that, i ask, the water body, painful or pleasurable, the adjectives, the state of adjectivity, when am i through with being salty on your tongue, i ask in a dream, you're through with surfing across my soaking wet face, you say it burns the tongue, say it’s just sometimes one needs river sometimes sea, why must we decidedly name it river or sea, i am bewildered in your language, i am struggling to identify the state of bewilderment, am i closer to sea or to river, where was i within those waves, and the tastes of me, on your tongue, river or sea, when river, when sea, when is river only river and sea only sea nothing else, when, am i, either river, or sea, these water bodies, have stopped bearing the fate, state, condition of adjectivity, sweetfresh, salty, buoyant, flooding, soaking wet, boundless, obedient, vanilla, tame, euphoric, consuming, tempestuous, tempestuously buoyant, when is it only painful and only pleasurable, and isn’t it so, living in our country, my country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, how to be truly buoyed, me and you, have we ever been truly buoyed, brief ferry boat ride connecting the streets and a small island, not enough to lose ourselves in endlessness, will be on streets again so soon, with the fear of forgetting, how could we forget, but to buoy without end for what, the sound of laughter from somehow in the throat hurls out, to buoy that’s it, to saltify the waters here and over there, to make peace, to stop resisting, to have no ending occur, to know for myself if the water’s salty or sweetfresh, or treacly biting, if our bodies be salty or sweetfresh, or ultimately tasteless, i blurt back, tasteless, and a sudden anguish strikes, tasteless, the most hopeless state, condition and fate of water, an ending, an adjectiveless adjective, an illegitimate child adjective, an orphaned adjective, a self-drowning adjective, a dead adjective drifting in oblivion, i'm not done being struck, i am bewildered a fateless adjective, will you, decidedly choose one adjective closer to sea or closer to river, is that treacly biting taste the fate of river or sea?

DE SMAAK VAN WATER

voor dode vissen overal

dit rivierwater vermengd met de bron van zeewater, zoutachtig, zoals jij, wrangzoet, zijn stem kan een tedere nostalgie niet verbergen, ik heb mijn gezicht al gebaad mijn tong doordrenkt in een immens zouten universum, wachtend op het veertje dat ons samen overzet, terug naar de stad het paar dat even de weg kwijt was, jouw gezicht opent zich in een vagina, de lieve stem valt neer uit halfslaap ooit naast elkaar, we hebben een paar adjectieven nodig om de smaak van dit water te bewaren, of we zullen het vergeten, hoe, wil je dichterbij de zee of bij de rivier, mijn vader zegt, begin maar bij de rivieren, puur zijn ze, aardig, vertrouwd, de golven van zachtzoet water, saai, geruisloos, tot in welke graad zal een zoetwaterzone zoet zijn, breng ik op, alleen de zee volstaat voor een leven van dromen, de golven van zout water zijn vurig, wild, opgewonden, lawaaierig, gaat vader door, leven in onze contreien, geen andere manier dan dolen, zich laten meevoeren, duizenden kilometers kust, wat is er anders nog te doen, ik praat met hem, nooit heb ik geweten wat het is zich echt te laten meevoeren, ik kan niet zwemmen, proef de smaak van water maar traag, sticht maar vrede met water, verzet je niet, laat je alleen maar meevoeren, zegt hij, je zal zien de smaak van water stopt niet op het puntje van de tong stroomt voort marineert eet met de tijd ons hart leeg, ik barst in lachen uit, werp tegen, ik ben de metaforen zat, wat stagneert, wat stroomt voort, wat marineert, wat eet leeg, wat is hart, sleetse metaforen, mijn hart werkt aan adjectieven, wat zijn ze dan, ik beklaag de chaos de wirwar van de taal, gebruik niet graag adjectieven om rivieren of zeeën te benoemen, maar ze zijn tot substantieven getransformeerd, de staat van adjectief zijn maakt me nog bezorgder, het klinkt alsof het zielig is, de staat, het lot, de voorwaarde, de lach ontspringt ergens uit de diepte van mijn keel, je doorweekte gezicht, het zou miraculeuzer zijn als je gezicht zich in een vagina opende, toch, maar over het zwemmen ben ik wanhopig, ik zeg, water zijn, moet dat per se zout of zoet, worden deze adjectieven identiteiten van water, of andersom, is water identiteit van deze adjectieven, wat is de staat, het lot, de voorwaarde, wat is alleen water buiten alles wat eraan verbonden is, wat is pijnlijk wat is vrolijk, wat dan, ik stel de vraag, het lichaam van water, pijnlijk of vrolijk, de adjectieven, de staat van adjectief zijn, wanneer ben ik niet meer zoutig op je tong, ik stel de vraag in mijn droom, je houdt op met surfen over mijn doorweekte gezicht, je tong is verbrand, men heeft alleen behoefte aan rivier wanneer men behoefte aan zee heeft, waarom moet men per se rivieren of zeeën benoemen, ik ben verwonderd in jouw taal, poog de staat van verwondering te identificeren, ben ik dichter bij zeeën of rivieren, ben ik al ergens in deze golven, en de smaak van mij, op je tong, rivieren of zeeën, wanneer rivieren wanneer zeeën, wanneer zijn rivieren slechts rivieren en zeeën slechts zeeën, wanneer, ben ik, ofwel rivieren, of zeeën, deze lichamen van water, houden op identiteiten te dragen, de staat, de voorwaarde van adjectieven, zoet, zout, dolend, uitgestrekt, doorweekt, grenzeloos, zachtaardig, saai, opgewonden, vurig, intens dolend, wanneer slechts pijnlijk en vrolijk, is het waar, in onze contreien levend, mijn contreien, niets beter dan dolend, duizenden kilometers kust, wat anders te doen, ik praat met je, hoe echt te dolen, ik en jij, hebben we ook echt gedoold, het overtochtje tussen de stad en het eilandje is niet genoeg om ons in het oneindige te verliezen, opnieuw snel de straten op, opnieuw de zorg dat we vergeten, niet mogelijk te vergeten, maar waarom grenzeloos dolen, ergens uit de diepte van mijn keel ontspringt de lach, om zomaar te dolen, om door het water hier en daar zout te zijn, om vrede te stichten, om niet langer te weerstaan, om geen eind te laten komen, om te weten of het water zoet of zout is, of wrangzoet, is ons lichaam zout of zoet, of uiteindelijk smakeloos, ik flap het woord eruit, smakeloos, plots ben ik verbijsterd lijdend, smakeloos, is de staat, de voorwaarde, de meest hopeloze identiteit van water, is het eind, is een adjectief zonder adjectief, is een bastaard-adjectief, een wees-adjectief, een adjectief dat zichzelf verdrinkt, een gestorven adjectief drijvend in vergetelheid, ik houd niet op verbijsterd te zijn, ik ben verwonderd over een adjectief zonder identiteit, moet je ooit per se een adjectief kiezen dichter bij zeeën of rivieren, is wrangzoet de identiteit van rivieren of zeeën?

VỊ NƯỚC

tặng cá chết ở mọi nơi

nước sông này lẫn với nguồn nước biển, mặn, như em, ngọt ngào mặn chát, giọng người không giấu nỗi tiếc nuối trìu mến, tôi đã đang đầm mặt mình xuống một cõi mặn mòi mênh mông thấm ngập lưỡi, chờ chuyến phà đưa chúng tôi cùng sang bờ kia, trả lại phố cặp người lạc tạm thời, mặt em mở ra một cái âm hộ, tiếng nói dịu dàng đổ xuống từ cơn ngủ mớ bên nhau lúc nào đó, mình cần vài tính từ để giữ lại vị nước nơi này, kẻo rồi ta sẽ quên, như thế nào, người muốn gần biển hơn, hay gần sông hơn, cha tôi nói, hãy bắt đầu từ những con sông, chúng thuần, lành, thân thuộc, những con sóng nước ngọt hiền khô, buồn tẻ, vắng lặng, một vùng nước ngọt sẽ ngọt cỡ nào, tôi chêm lời, nhưng biển mới đủ cho cuộc sống của những giấc mơ, những con sóng nước mặn tha thiết, hoang dã, phấn khích, ồn ào, cha tiếp, sống nước mình, không cách gì khác hơn là bềnh bồng, mấy ngàn cây số bờ biển, còn biết làm gì khác, tôi nói cùng người, tôi chưa từng biết thế nào là thực sự bềnh bồng, tôi không thể bơi, hãy nếm thật lâu vị nước, làm hòa với nước, đừng chống lại, thả trôi mình thôi, người nói, em sẽ thấy vị của nước không đọng nơi đầu lưỡi mà chảy dạt và ướp mặn và theo tháng năm ăn ruỗng một góc tim ta, tôi cự nự, bật cười, tôi đã chán ốm những ẩn dụ, cái gì đọng lại, cái gì chảy dạt, cái gì ướp mặn, cái gì ăn ruỗng, cái gì là tim, những ẩn dụ quen miệng, tôi đang bận lòng với những tính từ, những tính từ thế nào cơ, tôi càm ràm những mắc mớ lộn xộn của ngôn ngữ, tôi không thích dùng tính từ để gọi tên sông hay biển, nhưng tính từ đã tự hóa danh từ rồi, tình trạng của việc là tính từ làm tôi ưu tư hơn, nghe có vẻ tội nghiệp, tình trạng, thân phận, điều kiện, tiếng cười từ cuống họng đâu đó nhảy ra, mặt người đẫm nước, sẽ kỳ diệu hơn nếu mặt người mở ra một cái âm hộ, phải không, nhưng tôi tuyệt vọng chuyện học bơi, tôi nói, là nước, thì có nhất định phải mặn hay ngọt, những tính từ trở thành thân phận của nước, hay ngược lại, nước là thân phận của những tính từ đó, cái gì là tình trạng, thân phận, điều kiện, cái gì chỉ là nước nằm ngoài những gì phải gắn với nước, cái gì đau cái gì vui, điều gì cơ, tôi hỏi, cơ thể nước, đau hay vui, những tính từ, tình trạng của việc là tính từ, khi nào tôi thôi mặn mòi trong lưỡi người, tôi hỏi trong cơn mơ, người thôi lướt trên mặt tôi ướt đẫm, lưỡi đau rát, chỉ là lúc mình cần sông khi cần biển, sao mình cứ nhất định phải gọi tên sông hay biển, tôi ngơ ngác trong ngôn ngữ người, tôi đang nỗ lực nhận diện tình trạng của ngơ ngác, tôi gần biển hơn hay sông hơn, tôi đã ở đâu trong những con sóng đó, và vị của tôi, trong lưỡi người, sông hay biển, khi nào sông, khi nào biển, khi nào sông chỉ là sông và biển chỉ là biển thôi, khi nào, thì tôi, hay sông, hay biển, những cơ thể nước này, thôi mang thân phận, tình trạng, điều kiện của tính từ, ngọt, mặn, bồng bềnh, tràn lan, đẫm ướt, mênh mông, thuần lành, buồn tẻ, phấn khích, tha thiết, dữ dội, bồng bềnh dữ dội, khi nào chỉ đau và vui, có thật thế, sống nước mình, nước tôi, cách gì khác hơn là bềnh bồng, mấy ngàn cây số bờ biển, còn biết làm gì khác, tôi nói cùng người, làm thế nào để thực sự bềnh bồng, tôi và người, đã bao giờ thực sự bềnh bồng, chuyến phà ngắn choằn nối phố xá và hòn đảo nhỏ không đủ để mình lạc lối vào vô tận, lại phố xá nhanh thôi, lại lo âu rồi sẽ quên, quên thế nào cho nổi, nhưng bềnh bồng vô tận làm gì, tiếng cười đâu đó trong cuống họng nhảy ra, để bềnh bồng thôi, để mặn mòi vị nước ở đây và ở những nơi kia, để làm hòa, để thôi kháng cự, để không có kết thúc nào xảy ra, để tôi biết nước mặn hay ngọt, hay ngọt ngào mặn chát, cơ thể mình mặn hay ngọt, hay rút cuộc là vô vị, tôi buột miệng, vô vị, và đột ngột bàng hoàng đau khổ, vô vị, là tình trạng, điều kiện, thân phận tuyệt vọng nhất của nước, là kết thúc, là một tính từ không tính từ, một tính từ con rơi, một tính từ mồ côi, một tính từ tự trầm mình, một tính từ chết nổi trong quên lãng, tôi không ngớt bàng hoàng, tôi ngơ ngác một tính từ không thân phận, rồi người có nhất định phải chọn một tính từ gần biển hơn hay gần sông, vị ngọt ngào mặn chát đó là thân phận của sông hay biển?

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TASTE OF WATERS

for dead fish everywhere

this river water swirls into the mouth of seawater, salt-like, like you dear, treacly biting, your voice does not conceal its tenderly nurtured regret, i have been swamping my face in a boundaryless span of saltiness soaking and flooding the tongue, waiting on the ferry boat that will bring us both to that side over there, return to the city a couple momentarily strayed bodies, my dear your face opens into a vagina, sweet honey speech pouring down from an episode of sleep-talking besides each other somewhen ago, we need a few adjectives to preserve the taste of this water, or else we'll forget, how should it be, do you want to be closer to sea, or closer to river, my father says, let’s start with rivers, they're obedient, wholesome, familial, their sweetwater waves kind vanilla tame, soundless, how sweet a stretch of sweetwater can be, i insert, but only the sea would do for the life of dreams, its saltwater waves consuming feral euphoric, boisterous, father goes on, living in our country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, i have never known how to be truly buoyed, i cannot swim, just let yourself slowly savor the taste of waters, make peace with them, don’t resist, just float your body, you say, you'll feel water’s taste not stagnantly at the tip of the tongue but flowing adrift and marinating so that after months years a corner of our heart has become eaten out, i demur, let out a snort, i’m bored sick by metaphor, what stagnates, what drifts, what marinates, what eats out, what is a heart, such mouth-worn metaphors, my heart is busy with the adjectives, how the adjectives are, i begrudge the cluttered tangles of language, i don’t like using adjectives to call the names of river or sea, but adjectives already self-transforms into nouns, the state of adjectivity occupies my mind more, such a sorry sound it seems to have, the state, the fate, the condition, the sound of laughter from somewhere in the throat hurls out, your face soaking wet, it’d be more marvelous if your face opened into a vagina, wouldn’t it, but i am hopeless in learning to swim, i say, being water, must it be decidedly salty or sweet, are these adjectives subjected to the fate of water, or the other way around, is water subjected to the fate of those adjectives, what is state, fate, condition, what is water outside of the things a water carries within, what is painful what is pleasurable, what is that, i ask, the water body, painful or pleasurable, the adjectives, the state of adjectivity, when am i through with being salty on your tongue, i ask in a dream, you're through with surfing across my soaking wet face, you say it burns the tongue, say it’s just sometimes one needs river sometimes sea, why must we decidedly name it river or sea, i am bewildered in your language, i am struggling to identify the state of bewilderment, am i closer to sea or to river, where was i within those waves, and the tastes of me, on your tongue, river or sea, when river, when sea, when is river only river and sea only sea nothing else, when, am i, either river, or sea, these water bodies, have stopped bearing the fate, state, condition of adjectivity, sweetfresh, salty, buoyant, flooding, soaking wet, boundless, obedient, vanilla, tame, euphoric, consuming, tempestuous, tempestuously buoyant, when is it only painful and only pleasurable, and isn’t it so, living in our country, my country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, how to be truly buoyed, me and you, have we ever been truly buoyed, brief ferry boat ride connecting the streets and a small island, not enough to lose ourselves in endlessness, will be on streets again so soon, with the fear of forgetting, how could we forget, but to buoy without end for what, the sound of laughter from somehow in the throat hurls out, to buoy that’s it, to saltify the waters here and over there, to make peace, to stop resisting, to have no ending occur, to know for myself if the water’s salty or sweetfresh, or treacly biting, if our bodies be salty or sweetfresh, or ultimately tasteless, i blurt back, tasteless, and a sudden anguish strikes, tasteless, the most hopeless state, condition and fate of water, an ending, an adjectiveless adjective, an illegitimate child adjective, an orphaned adjective, a self-drowning adjective, a dead adjective drifting in oblivion, i'm not done being struck, i am bewildered a fateless adjective, will you, decidedly choose one adjective closer to sea or closer to river, is that treacly biting taste the fate of river or sea?

TASTE OF WATERS

for dead fish everywhere

this river water swirls into the mouth of seawater, salt-like, like you dear, treacly biting, your voice does not conceal its tenderly nurtured regret, i have been swamping my face in a boundaryless span of saltiness soaking and flooding the tongue, waiting on the ferry boat that will bring us both to that side over there, return to the city a couple momentarily strayed bodies, my dear your face opens into a vagina, sweet honey speech pouring down from an episode of sleep-talking besides each other somewhen ago, we need a few adjectives to preserve the taste of this water, or else we'll forget, how should it be, do you want to be closer to sea, or closer to river, my father says, let’s start with rivers, they're obedient, wholesome, familial, their sweetwater waves kind vanilla tame, soundless, how sweet a stretch of sweetwater can be, i insert, but only the sea would do for the life of dreams, its saltwater waves consuming feral euphoric, boisterous, father goes on, living in our country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, i have never known how to be truly buoyed, i cannot swim, just let yourself slowly savor the taste of waters, make peace with them, don’t resist, just float your body, you say, you'll feel water’s taste not stagnantly at the tip of the tongue but flowing adrift and marinating so that after months years a corner of our heart has become eaten out, i demur, let out a snort, i’m bored sick by metaphor, what stagnates, what drifts, what marinates, what eats out, what is a heart, such mouth-worn metaphors, my heart is busy with the adjectives, how the adjectives are, i begrudge the cluttered tangles of language, i don’t like using adjectives to call the names of river or sea, but adjectives already self-transforms into nouns, the state of adjectivity occupies my mind more, such a sorry sound it seems to have, the state, the fate, the condition, the sound of laughter from somewhere in the throat hurls out, your face soaking wet, it’d be more marvelous if your face opened into a vagina, wouldn’t it, but i am hopeless in learning to swim, i say, being water, must it be decidedly salty or sweet, are these adjectives subjected to the fate of water, or the other way around, is water subjected to the fate of those adjectives, what is state, fate, condition, what is water outside of the things a water carries within, what is painful what is pleasurable, what is that, i ask, the water body, painful or pleasurable, the adjectives, the state of adjectivity, when am i through with being salty on your tongue, i ask in a dream, you're through with surfing across my soaking wet face, you say it burns the tongue, say it’s just sometimes one needs river sometimes sea, why must we decidedly name it river or sea, i am bewildered in your language, i am struggling to identify the state of bewilderment, am i closer to sea or to river, where was i within those waves, and the tastes of me, on your tongue, river or sea, when river, when sea, when is river only river and sea only sea nothing else, when, am i, either river, or sea, these water bodies, have stopped bearing the fate, state, condition of adjectivity, sweetfresh, salty, buoyant, flooding, soaking wet, boundless, obedient, vanilla, tame, euphoric, consuming, tempestuous, tempestuously buoyant, when is it only painful and only pleasurable, and isn’t it so, living in our country, my country, no better way than buoyantly, some thousand kilometers of seashore, what’s left to do, i say to you, how to be truly buoyed, me and you, have we ever been truly buoyed, brief ferry boat ride connecting the streets and a small island, not enough to lose ourselves in endlessness, will be on streets again so soon, with the fear of forgetting, how could we forget, but to buoy without end for what, the sound of laughter from somehow in the throat hurls out, to buoy that’s it, to saltify the waters here and over there, to make peace, to stop resisting, to have no ending occur, to know for myself if the water’s salty or sweetfresh, or treacly biting, if our bodies be salty or sweetfresh, or ultimately tasteless, i blurt back, tasteless, and a sudden anguish strikes, tasteless, the most hopeless state, condition and fate of water, an ending, an adjectiveless adjective, an illegitimate child adjective, an orphaned adjective, a self-drowning adjective, a dead adjective drifting in oblivion, i'm not done being struck, i am bewildered a fateless adjective, will you, decidedly choose one adjective closer to sea or closer to river, is that treacly biting taste the fate of river or sea?

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