Translated by Henry Zhang and Amelia Dale
People always bring up my birthplace,
a cold Yunannese place with camellias and pines.
It taught me Tibetan, and I forgot.
It taught me a tenor; I haven’t sung
That register is a hard pine nut, hidden somewhere.
There are Muntjacs in the summer
and fire pits in winter.
The locals hunt, harvest honey, plant buckwheat
because it’s hardy. Pyres are familiar:
we don’t ask about the private life of death
or ask comets striking ruts in the earth.
They taught me certain arts
so that I might never use them.
I left them
so they wouldn’t leave me first.
They said that loving should be like fire
so that ashes needn’t need to burst into life.
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