Recalling a Dream
The dot of midnight, I've just gone to bed,
when I meet a quick-witted carpenter.
His back pilots me through a copse,
we enter a hill village, its silent darkness.
There's a scented lamp.
The old sort, young but white-haired,
his workshop is still an extraordinary expanse.
His axeblade alters all things, makes all things ideal.
When we change, it's sudden.
I sit on a stone stool,
skirted with silk-like folds –
heat, the perfumed capitalist.
A man and a crowded floor's obedient stones.
His intricate, finely carved danger
intrudes on our ultimate restricted zone.
Blood, then urine stop; he says sorry and smiles.
Stones with white hair, the craftsman's house...
His mouth sends a whistle up the slope. I turn round
before the dream becomes a problem,
the air whirling with milk.
As if one dubious afternoon, a car breaks down,
and the traffic slows to a stop, as if that's what it always does.
A nearby wheat field, some grassy ground, a farmer and a foal,
a white sail far out to sea, as if always, always this remote.
I swallow my surprise, my skewered-together doubts.
Xiao Kaiyu was born in 1960 in Sichuan province, China, has published several volumes of poetry, spent a number of years in Germany and now lives in the central Chinese city of Kaifeng.
Alistair Noon (translator) is poetry editor of Bordercrossing Berlin, coordinates the annual Poetry Hearings festival in Berlin and translates from German, Russian and Chinese.