to Camille Claudel
Even snow doesn’t visit here anymore.
But somehow you appear, sitting in front of me
swallowing some raw eggs, your face swollen.
Even the fire in the furnace doesn’t make you shine.
“I can’t afford new clothes.
All my shoes are worn out.”
You tell me repeatedly.
I learn for the first time
of your story with him.
I’m surprised someone I’ve worshiped
could have fear.
The man is dead from now on.
Your voice is clear, and calm.
There’s no melancholy anger sadness hatred despair
whatsoever in your eyes.
None of those as mentioned in the book.
How shall I console you then?
Some people say you are a footnote of him.
What a footnote!
It takes energy to be a long footnote.
But I still have no clues as to how to read you.
Your life gets intertwined with mine.
We survive together.
We go out to the busiest street
to buy new clothes and beautiful shoes.
How we stride on the street!
We then sit by a small stove,
drinking a cup of Chinese liquor.
We sit here for a long time
with no desire to get up. We watch
the drunken world spinning
Those who run all year round,
the masters of this world,
bustling from game to game, story to story,
open a huge curtain
to take the whole stage, in various roles
as they want or in spite of themselves.
They recite lines so perfectly
like clouds moving over the running streams.
I’m the audience
hiding in a corner outside the plot.
In the shadow, I sew a bedsheet
so clumsily, as if sewing my entire life,
into the bedsheet that can only wrap my body.
Nobody hears the cries
of a soul
in the stitches.
Translations from the Chinese
By Ming Di