Three Poems

by  Xiao An
translated by Anna Sun & Zack Rogow

Watching the Moonrise Alone

Watching the moonrise alone
the silent moon is like the person watching
They’re alone together
No one utters a single word
The passage of time is like the journey of the moon
    across the sky
It moves further and further away
until the sky is completely empty



Move the Stone to Someone Else’s Heart

Where is the unknown remedy 
that can lift from my heart
this huge stone
For three hundred and seventy-two days I’ve tried to
    push it away 
But nothing moves it to someone else’s heart


A Believer

She spoke about being in heaven
while we talked
all night long

Though it was raining that night
she dwelt in the warm house of God
But where was I?

That evening when we were face-to-face –
the voices of two people
At least she was in heaven for a while

It was pouring rain all around us
but her hair never got wet
or her fingers

It was as if
when I was there that night
the door of God’s house always stood open 

Translations from the Chinese

Xiao An (b. 1964) is often regarded as a “poet’s poet” in China. One of the few women in the experimental poetry group feifei, meaning “neither/nor,” she has been working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital for twenty years while steadily publishing poetry. Her writing is influenced by classical Chinese poetry but has a contemporary feel in its themes and sensibility.

Anna Sun is a scholar of Chinese religion and author of Confucianism as a World Religion. Her essays on literature have appeared in the Kenyon Review and London Review of Books.

Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His translations include Earthlight, by André Breton, which received the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Award.