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Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm: Poems and Essays

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19 review for Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm: Poems and Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    “I was not convinced: no matter what, I would bury myself, or at least my soul, in the sky. My father dismissed any discussion about the soul as the most idle activity, and would not stop for such idleness. In his words, We can’t do anything about our souls, as the soul takes care of itself. But I feel I should place myself in this sky, whether shattered or exalted, and contribute a part of myself” “Indeed, when I first thought to express my feelings through language, I chose poetry because of “I was not convinced: no matter what, I would bury myself, or at least my soul, in the sky. My father dismissed any discussion about the soul as the most idle activity, and would not stop for such idleness. In his words, We can’t do anything about our souls, as the soul takes care of itself. But I feel I should place myself in this sky, whether shattered or exalted, and contribute a part of myself” “Indeed, when I first thought to express my feelings through language, I chose poetry because of my cerebral palsy. Writing a word is strenuous for me: I must exert all my strength to balance my body, pressing my right wrist down with my left hand before struggling to get a word out. Among all literary genres, poetry uses the least amount of words. Naturally, it spoke best to me. Much as society might contaminate my mind, poetry cleanses me with compassion.” “As her translator, I have learned how her life and disability have shaped her poetry in a unique voice that must be heard just as it is. I have chosen beauty and austerity by seeking to translate Yu Xiuhua simply, quietly, paying attention to every nuance of her work.” I actually stumbled upon her poetry when I read Winter Pastures by Li Juan this year and was perusing the translator’s website in awe of the voices they were publishing, and the translations. The first poem made her famous, and while not my favorite, it is raw and real, and transcends borders and language. She is disabled but clear eyed, lonely but spiritual, real in a way that opens my eyes to what the people of China are like in their repressive regime and what appears to the outside as conformity and sameness I can’t imagine a world where nearly everyone has black hair and dark eyes, for example. But not only does it exist, it is the greatest mass of humanity on our planet. I can really sense the simplicity in translation here which I love; other translators change the feel of things by trying to make them fit into English; this translator kept the beauty and rawness. My found poem: Poetry and love, I believe, forever sing aloud on this vast land, no matter how traumatic it might seem. Once I add a word, my sorrow, despair, and fury turn into beauty. I use portions of time to gather half a lifetime When the sun is fine, I place myself inside it, like a dried orange peel Time and again I must curb snow in my heart Too pure and close to spring Wherever they are is my homeland an ancestral temple where I hear stars in dialogue Here is an ambiguous boundary: barely a moment ago, a strand of twilight sparkled through a poplar, emanating an exquisite voice between its body and leaves. CROSSING HALF OF CHINA TO FUCK YOU I press countless dark nights into one dawn to fuck you I, as many, run as one to fuck you Of course butterflies can lead me astray and I think of some odes as spring I love you without reserve, not just to move your heart, since your solitude means nothing to me, but to praise your lovely existence in this world. SNOW DREAM I dream of eight thousand miles of snow: from your province to mine, from my embroidered cloth to your inn this white bluff and bluster A discarded mine buried deep, a dark river sinks into oblivion Horse bones rise in a wild grassland The sky, a vast hollow TO LEI PINGYANG All these years, when people ask where I am in life I reply, Surviving. Like you, I’ve never written any poetry In this lifetime, we meet others who write poetry, even though they aren’t poets to me you are calmly facing the setting sun you are weeping through poetry for a soul who can’t return THOSE SECRETS SUDDENLY DIGNIFIED Your birthday, my lover, is like an apple’s secret On this unique day, you open autumn wind, appease waves My narrative interrupted over and over, words dried up, tears blind and imprecise Once I add a word, my sorrow, despair, and fury turn into beauty This day sways, suddenly dignified OUR WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN IN THIS NIGHT How wonderful, like plucking qin strings deep in a mountain Only rocks and withered leaves are audible. Moonshine or not, an abyss widens I say in a pond of time, as we descend we must bear some fears I say indeed, this has nothing to do with already, or yet to come I LOVE YOU In my dumb life, I draw water from a well, cook, take my medicine regularly When the sun is fine, I place myself inside it, like a dried orange peel Tea leaves to use on alternate rounds: chrysanthemum, jasmine, rose, lemon These marvels lead me to spring Time and again I must curb snow in my heart Too pure and close to spring HOW CAN I MAKE YOU LOVE ME Who knows what comes next after being loved, but I wait in patience Once, I followed a glow from the beginning to the end Despair won’t linger long in the body Even a strand of weed sways on my body I think this is a marvel Once, I said to my father, “How blessed to be buried in this sky after we die.” My father looked up and squinted; light from the sky had fallen into his eyes, producing fine sparkling sounds. “No,” he said, “I don’t want to be buried in the sky. It isn’t practical. Remember this: I must be buried in the earth.” But I was not convinced: no matter what, I would bury myself, or at least my soul, in the sky. My father dismissed any discussion about the soul as the most idle activity, and would not stop for such idleness. In his words, We can’t do anything about our souls, as the soul takes care of itself. But I feel I should place myself in this sky, whether shattered or exalted, and contribute a part of myself AN AFTERNOON IN HENGDIAN VILLAGE A splendid sun haphazardly shines on sloped roofs, and a row of white poplars shines on a pond, square by square, on its water plants shines on creeping ferns, rapeseed, wheat Time isn’t flat enough to spread across plants divided among a cow and ducks in the water among hand gestures and me I use portions of time to gather half a lifetime Mother uses these fragments to gather a head full of white hair only the universe rejoices —it has garnered a spring LISTEN TO A LOVE SONG I always think of those leaves, how they fall into silence, a gigantic silence that silences a village I think of a quieter setting sun filtered through leaves those golden sobs for the sake of a more striking golden And I think of rain, how it cheers time up falling tearing up sorrow, falling straight onto leaves or on their reverse side You think of someone, his chest and back All in the past. Years drag on as if they were always there yet never If I die, a song will still whirl If I could still hear it RAIN FALLS OUTSIDE THE WINDOW Rain outside the window neglected me: a drop hugged another, fell and pushed each other, falling Fusion is wreckage, wreckage fusion But how long can one return to the sky, how long does it take to reach a descent Rain sounds different in different places No one vanishes faster than another No one arrives more compact than another No one in the rain, or not in it ALL YOU NEED IS TO BE ALIVE All you need is to be alive, God has His own plans. I have lived into the future, thus is the future Slowly a plant’s heart grows in the body What a surprise, yet how naturally A LEAKY BOAT The boat has just endured two voids One leaks out its body into a starry sky in the lake Another leaks into the fish in its body This is the only boat that confesses to being a boat on a desolate shore the nature of wood from a past life, and water of this time A DAY BESTOWED BY GOD Morning glories lift blue up a fence, as wind blows from afar A lush growth— each flavor penetrates me, warm and sweet I stand in the vast plain and see your city in its radiance I know you’ve crossed the road with a basket of apples All clues are here A day bestowed by God: you and I, content with the mortal world What a precious gift To my astonishment, I realize: when one feels bliss, bliss has quietly arrived. And at this very moment, bliss has virtually metaphormosed into a talent or an ability. It is about putting aside metaphysical work, and observing this specific instant as a bystander. Everything is let go, not a grain of sand in one’s hand; one feels calm between Heaven and Earth. I love this instant from the bottom of my heart. My love for this marvelous instant has never ceased, from when I first experienced it. Let poetry and love sing aloud on this vast land. Poetry and love, I believe, forever sing aloud on this vast land, no matter how traumatic it might seem. But life, like Zen, may not bring on immediate enlightenment. Nonetheless, life never fails to offer us the way of nature. Tao is the way, and all things come along with the path. A wide path is invisible. The invisible enhances life and its immensity. Given such revelation, all questions will vanish in days to come, and silence will be the final answer to all questions. I don’t see a better way, or a higher intelligence than this. There is no better ode to life than a weed that grows ruthlessly and arches out of the ground, despite its trauma. There is a word in our language and culture, grass-folks, which refers to ordinary people who survive like ants and creeping vines on the ground. This word very much contains the disdain for a certain social class…Yet those who are wounded or trampled upon at any time are precisely the ones capable of holding up the sky of history, and of tolerating drastic changes and the pain of history, so the genes of a culture and civilization can seep through the soil and be preserved. Li Po states, “Every talent has its place or time.” I consider being alive most purposeful. One’s existence is a heritage in itself, and the radiance of one’s insignificant thoughts must have inadvertently enlightened others one way or another. I’LL SING EVERY SPRING Every spring I’ll sing, watch clouds arrive from the south Once wind softens, spring gets real A man sits on a ridge where dandelions carry small flames running in spring, all the way out of the village He can’t hear my voice But I’ll sing every spring A voice sways in the wind, sad and sweet TEMPTATION He takes off spring in the morning. Flowers shut, even light walks deep into autumn Fallen leaves beat on his shoulders: shudder, a temptation like his silence Sunset penetrates his ankles: meandering light, a temptation like his smile Even at dusk, he washes himself in a river the stains on his body When he opens a wooden box, butterflies and bees rush into his face, along with an erected hive and his calm and quiet LONGING FOR A SNOWSTORM I long for heavy snowfall, without premeditation, denser than death Unexpectedly, in a deluge, smashing hatred down I need it to be this violent. My slightness isn’t a snowfall a careless reason I want the whiteness I loathe to pile on top of me! In this vast wasteland I want it to erect an immortal tombstone UNTITLED There isn’t much time, we must condense sleep Repeat to me the rivers, mountains, mornings and crowds you have passed —the me you once loved falls again for you then yawns without grievance LOVE In a sunny courtyard, a golden pitter-patter of sparrows faded Chinese rose leaves look just fine Time has an order. Life lays bare a bright side its other side in need of love I will run into the best landscape, the best folk Wherever they are is my homeland an ancestral temple where I hear stars in dialogue Here I am, at this hour The world shows me how landscapes undulate However large its secret, however large the sky it opens At this instant, struck by a secret I weep, but keep my mouth shut AUTUMN RAIN You walk past that street: lights now on the rain hasn’t stopped It’s been too long since we met. You are dripping wet from another world I don’t know where to start wringing you dry We praise the world, exhaust a lifetime I praise you, but let this lifetime sloppily drag on Leaves fall on a straight path Those who fail to catch the wind end up with hearts in knots I thought a body that blocks wind would leave you a line of clear narrow sky I still hope to err over and over I favor dusk, as if I were just as gentle and cool. Perhaps I should be embarrassed, describing myself as gentle, but I can’t find a better and more calming word. We have manhandled so many words that I only dream of using them anew. Here is an ambiguous boundary: barely a moment ago, a strand of twilight sparkled through a poplar, emanating an exquisite voice between its body and leaves. Night falls the next moment: I feel its gentleness as wind blows through the window. A windy hour is to me a gentle one. I feel replenished right now, as the entirety of a day gradually flows, boosting a nobody like me with a sense of fulfillment. Time has its tangible flow; I am but a clean pond that waits for time to flow gently in me. Villagers back from the field look quite content, too: each day, each second glows in the field, subtle and still. How authentic, the arc of a body walking in the field at dusk. As I write, I realize I have not said anything important about dusk. I can only immerse myself deeper in it. I am but a slice of it, and can’t see it from a larger perspective. I am no more than a detail waiting for the whole picture. I praise dusk with my silence. My ode is a vestige of what it offers me and more

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I enjoyed many poems in this collection but it was the prose that really staggered me. Yu's writing may be often described as raw or confessional, but this seemingly straightforward style is underlied with many complexities that she is constantly grappling with in her poems and essays. I found her essays in particular to be sharply insightful, beautifully written and moving. As Chris Littlewood writes over at the Washington Post, "Yu renders her life in a way that is irreducible." I enjoyed many poems in this collection but it was the prose that really staggered me. Yu's writing may be often described as raw or confessional, but this seemingly straightforward style is underlied with many complexities that she is constantly grappling with in her poems and essays. I found her essays in particular to be sharply insightful, beautifully written and moving. As Chris Littlewood writes over at the Washington Post, "Yu renders her life in a way that is irreducible."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wesley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  5. 5 out of 5

    momo

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Lerro

  8. 4 out of 5

    aroomofbooks

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Green

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lina Fernandez

  11. 4 out of 5

    Constanza

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ekenedilichukwu Ikegwuani

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

  15. 5 out of 5

    joyce

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hilary ☀️

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cath Y. (riso.allegro)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  19. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

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