Black Silk Chicken

by  Xi Xi
translated by Jennifer Feeley

you gave me a black silk chicken
hoping I’d eat it
and get better
you gave me a black silk chicken
because I’ve been unwell

I cooked up the black silk chicken
devoured every bite
I’m feeling a bit better
a bit better
I devoured every last bite of
the entire black silk chicken
leaving behind
the bones
I cannot eat

one by one
I rinsed the bones with water
dried them in the sun
turns out you can also dip them in ink
and use them for writing
well then, I think I’ll write a thing or two
write a few words
thanking you

Translation from the Chinese

Xi Xi (the pen name of Cheung Yin) has written more than thirty books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. One of Hong Kong’s most beloved and prolific authors, she has won numerous international awards, most recently the 2019 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature.

PHOTO: Shi Lessner

Jennifer Feeley translates from Chinese. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize and a 2019 NEA Literature Translation Fellowship.