Arrivals (a poem)

Introduction:  On May 15, 2011, the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra premiered an original composition created by Jin Zhang called “Voices from Gold Mountain.” It was a symphonic tribute to Chinese-Canadian pioneers.

Paul Yee was invited to contribute a poem that would help introduce the music. The poem was performed in Chinese and English during the premiere.  Mr. Tommy Tao of Vancouver translated the poem from English to Chinese, and also performed it during the musical presentation.


“Arrival”

a solitary seagull
on silent wings

the morning
broken
by its insistent caw
cutting
through wind
through rivers of air
colliding
over cold ocean
lonely ships
and so we arrive

water
at once
both ocean and bridge
dividing and linking
ancient lands
ancient peoples
ancient songs

horizon
a thin line
slender
thickening
the wife’s eyebrow
(I wonder, does she worry for me?)

the distant rim
dark
then light.

haze
taking shape
grey
then green
shimmering
to crisp clear jade

islands of giant trees
dark pillars
cliffs of raw rock
knife edges
ocean creatures
slippery, shiny
sunning on stones
wide eyes
calm with sky.

Our feet land
and then float.

How light we are!

Slop meals in steerage
sicken and kill
weaker men.

Dry leaves
escape their branches
and freely float.

Toss a pebble:
perfect circles
spread through water.

Only words disappoint us.

Legs land
on granite ground
and find no peace.
Onward
Forward
Ahead.

Hurry, hurry, hurry.
Hungry mouths at home.

The wife, she warned,“Watch your step.
If you can’t walk,
you can’t work.”

Feet from paddy mud
and stone paths
centuries smooth
were free to wander
knew no danger
only honor.

Buy boots.
Animal leather
stiff and hard
guard
against treachery
underfoot.

Quicksand mud
swallows horse dung.
Flimsy bridges of fallen logs
rot inside.

A rock suddenly flies.
A frog, croaking,
scolds us.

We upset the balance
of its universe.

Good
to smile again.
Good
to hear birds singing
again.

If only everyone here
could smile
or sing
this land
so ample
so open
so pure

On moonless nights
we shiver
in shirts too thin.
Fear rises
as snow falls
and white is supreme.

The forest is still,
but alive.
Tread softly,
many have come earlier.

Who speaks for the wind?
Who speaks for the river?
Who lets us stay?

2011 02 08

 

抵達

 

海鷗孤飛

雙翼無聲

 

它的尖叫

劃破了清晨

割過風

和滔滔的氣流

在寒冷的海洋

寥寥幾條船

的上空

踫撞

就這樣

我們抵達了

 

一水

同時

是汪洋是橋樑

分隔而又連接

古老的大陸

古老的民族

古老的歌曲

 

地平線

幼幼的

細長的線

變濃了

妻子的眉

(我在想,她掛念我嗎?)

 

天際

轉亮

矇矓

現出輪廓

轉綠

晶瑩閃爍

碧玉無瑕

 

群島長滿大樹

陰森的巨柱

石壁赤裸

如萬刃林立

光光滑滑的

海洋生物

在石塊上曬太陽

瞪開的眼睛

有天空的安詳。

我們雙腳著地

然後又浮起。

 

我們多麼輕盈!

 

下等艙的劣等飯

體弱的人吃了

會生病甚至送命。

 

枯葉

脫離了樹枝

自由地飄浮。

擲一塊石:

完美的圈圈

在水面擴開。

唯有說話令人失望。

 

雙腿踏在

花岡石上

找不到平安。

出發

奮進。

向前。

 

快,快,快。

家鄉有許多待哺的口。

 

妻子她叮囑說:

「步步要小心。

如果行唔倒,

就開唔倒工。」

 

雙腳來自稻田的

阡陌和石徑

千百年磨平

自由來往

未嘗歷過凶險

步步有尊嚴。

 

買一對長靴

動物的皮革

堅又韌

防範

腳底潛伏的

危機。

 

流沙般的泥

吞噬了馬糞。

朽木疊成的橋

危危乎。

一塊石忽然飛過。

一只青蛙鼓噪,

責備我們。

我們破壞了它

宇宙的平衡。

 

幸好

能重現笑容。

幸好

能再聽

鳥鳴。

 

但使人人都

能歡笑

能唱歌

這土地那麼富足

那麼廣闊

那麼純潔

 

在沒有月光的晚上

我們顫抖抖

襯衣太單薄。

恐懼升起

下雪了

白色蓋過一切。

森林一片靜寂,

然而聰敏。

要躡腳行走,

有許多已先到的人。

 

為了風,為了河,

有誰仗義執言?

 

誰讓我們留下?

 

 

詩人:余兆昌

譯者:陶永強

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