translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

A black and white photograph of a woman, whose head is covered by a scarf, pressing her hand to a damp window between herself and the viewer. Her gaze is away from the viewer.

I settle my body and soul down in this small town
Its lychee orchards, its streets
A little deck in the assembly line
The rain wets my head, again and again
I rest my ideals, love, dreams, and youth down on it
My lover, sounds, smell, life
In a foreign place, under its dim streetlights
I rush about, covered with rain and sweat, panting
—I put my life into plastic products, screws, and nails
On a small worker’s ID card . . . My whole life
Ah, I give myself to it, a small village
Wind blows away everything that I have
Hoary and old, I return home

Translation from the Chinese

Zheng Xiaoqiong has been a migrant worker in Guangdong Province since 2001. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Shikan, Shanhua, and Renmin Wenxue, among many others. She has won multiple literary awards and attended poetry festivals all over the world. Her poems have been translated into a dozen other languages.

Tammy Lai-Ming Ho is the founding co-editor of Asian Cha, the president of PEN Hong Kong, and an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. She guest-edited WLT’s city issue devoted to Hong Kong (Spring 2019).