Liu Xia: Two Poems under House Arrest

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Before going to drink with my old brother
I will unplug my telephoneComing back drunk
I always could not help phoning a friend
After drinkingI might look ugly
And sound piercing

Waking up
I then realized
Nobody would like
To listen to nonsense from a drunk
The voices from the phone
became strange and distanced

At such a night after drinking
I would love Raymond Carver
For two drunks
To write useless poems face to face
Feeling neither shamed nor embarrassed

I will always, always remind myself
Before getting drunk
Unplug the telephone

(Translated by Yu Zhang and edited by Tim Lilburn)


Is this a tree?
It is me, a human.
Is it a tree in winter?
It is always so in all seasons of a year.
Where are the leaves?
The leaves are out of sight.
Why have you drawn a tree?
I like the way it stands.
It would be tired to be a tree for a lifetime, wouldn’t it?
Although tired,I prefer to stand.
Is there nobody accompanying you?
Oh, there are birds.
There is none visible.
Listen to the sound of wings fluttering.
Wouldn’t it look nice to draw birds on the tree?
I am too old and blind to see any.
You are unable at all to draw a bird, aren’t you?
Yes,I am unable.
You are a stupid old tree.
I am.


(Translated by Yu Zhang)