Three Poems by Louise Law


Translated from the Chinese by Jacqueline Leung

Translator’s note: These three poems are selected from Louise Law’s first poetry collection Or So It Seems 《而又仿佛》. They provide a sampling of Law’s fresh perspective—fresh in its proximity to nature, but also its ways of seeing that are slightly but tellingly off-kilter. Consider, for example, the miniscule shift of the wine bottle in “Reset” and the syntactic stickiness of “your forsaken your viscous bitterness,” which conjoins and splits words with overlapping or dangling characters in the Chinese original. My impression of Law’s poetry is that it evokes a kind of expectation, a search for something yet to come. As “There will be a stroke of light” shows, things are revealed to us in the most unexpected places: behind a book’s cover and inside our fishing tank.

Reset

On the curb a wine bottle one-third full
turns halfway toward the sea: vertically 
it is eighty thousand and two bottle lengths away
from the atmosphere. A yacht that has never set sail
drifts three kilometers offshore by a thin rope;
a golden retriever crosses the beach, 
completes its course, an obtuse angle, in two minutes and fifteen seconds;
the wind carefully matches its speed to a child’s pace;
the clouds are on schedule,
the hills are off in color,
the boats swing and sway,
seaweed emerges before its time,
someone unearths
a seashell refracting sunset;
yet another grills steak to medium well;
the beer is drunk right to
two-thirds;
I walk along the bend of the curb, 
I shift the wine bottle one slightest bit to the right.

歸位

一個三分滿的酒瓶在石壆上
半分臨海,跟大氣層
垂直相差八萬零兩個
相同的瓶子。不曾遠航的遊艇
被幼繩牽開了三公里;
金毛犬走過沙灘,
兩分十五秒完成鈍角;
風速無誤與孩子的步伐平行換算;
沒有遲到的雲,
偏色的山,
過分擺盪的船,
過早出現的海藻,
有人挖到一枚
折射日落的貝殼;
有人烤出牛排七分半熟;
啤酒剛剛喝到
三分之二;
我沿石壆的弧度移動,
我把酒瓶右移一毫釐。

your forsaken your viscous bitterness
你所餘下的你黏膩的淒怨

自此你粉身碎骨只餘下你的淒怨
像雨永遠下不完的電影定格黏塞
著我的毛孔直至骨髓開始滋養著
繁茂的青苔你的淒怨仍然黏塞我
骨頭裡的細洞如渠口裡一抹油垢
你祈禱你的淒怨永不消散永不凋
零你的淒怨像焦灼的烈日像你的
淒怨如你所餘下的你黏膩的淒怨

There will be a stroke of light

There will be a stroke of light, it will slip through crevices
of your hand to fall on closed eyelids; you say ahead
is where the road ends, a door
is about to open, and behind it a trembling ocean
and wandering sky

And so there will be a stroke of light
passing through rolling, overlapping clouds
through the wax of banyan leaves, through the double glazing
of glass buildings, a half glass of water,
the fish tank keeps half a shard to gild its water surface
the other half is tucked under fish scales and brilliant stones
a book hides a sliver in its cover’s fold
a whirl of shadows scatter, they remain adrift across the brick pavement

When everything comes too quick, there will be a stroke of light
slicing through skin like long leaf blades
it will gently carve on our faces
appearances like any other, like strangers who pass us by

會有一束光

會有一束光,從指縫溜進
輕閉的眼臉,你說面前
是甬道的盡頭,一扇門
即將打開,後面是顫動的海
茫然無向的天空

然後呢,會有一束光
穿過等速的、積疊的雲
穿過榕樹的葉蠟,穿過玻璃大廈的
雙重玻璃,一隻未滿的水杯,
魚缸的水面留住了半片光
彩石下的魚鱗鎖著另外半片
書扉的摺痕偷偷夾了一角兒
一團四散的影,在青磚地上浮游多時

在措手不及的時候,會有一束光
如細長的葉展開滑溜的刀口
輕輕地在你我臉上雕刻出
千面一相,趨近路人


Law Lok Man, Louise (羅樂敏) graduated as a Philosophy major at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she also received a master’s degree in English. In 2010 she joined Fleurs des lettres, one of Hong Kong’s most acclaimed literary magazines, and is now its director. She was the Festival Manager at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and the Project Manager of LitStream, the first literary festival initiated by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. She was one of the first runners-up for the 3rd Li Shing Wah Modern Poetry Award for Young Poets, and is one of the six recipients of the Panel Commendation Award for New Authors in the 13th Hong Kong Book Prize. Her first Chinese poetry collection, Or So It Seems (《而又仿佛》), was published in 2018.

Jacqueline Leung is the translations editor of Cicada and a translator of contemporary Chinese literature. She is Asymptote’s Hong Kong editor-at-large. Her work has appeared in ArtAsiaPacific, the Asian Review of BooksArtomity, and Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine.

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