Bicycles in the Sixties
Early morning, free of clothes
I stay indoors, coolness like a fine silk covers my skin.
I light up a cigarette, and reopen the book
to where I left off yesterday, the small town
in Ireland where Beckett spent his childhood,
his father taking him to Dublin in 1916.
There, the burning fires of an uprising
troubled him all his life.
In my youth—the Cultural Revolution—
the buses roaring through the streets
with Red Guards brandishing guns, tearing down the replicated
Imperial Dam. It was time to “Break the Four Olds”.
I remember leaving home for middle school
two miles away, and saw a young guard in glasses
raised his gun and started shooting porcelain vases
off the power poles.
Shattered pieces flew like birds in all directions.
Armed conflict. The corpse wrapped in asphalt,
abandoned in a roadside truck, shone a blackened light
in the sun. And my mother, head of a small factory unit,
wanted by the opposing faction of the Red Guards,
fled to someplace remote, in fear.
I returned home and saw grandmother worried, a blackened light
in her eyes.
by Sun Wenbo
from Poetry International
translation Ming Di and Neil Aitken