This Minute by Xi Chuan

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This Minute

this minute, a man carries a coffin down the street his buttons are open, he’s sweaty all over his feet tap the street splashed with starlight he sees the death-dark roofs and red-skinned lamps from his dreams we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

this minute, the wind advances on the roadless ocean and desert who moves all the trash? who turns a flashlight to the sky? who grabs onto the bird that comes flying and discards a handful of iron filings? we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

five hundred women in five hundred rooms loosen their braids remove shoes and socks, and come to the window in shorts five hundred managers turn off the lights in five hundred libraries listening to the rumbling and grumbling of their stomachs we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

five continents, seven seas, the prime meridian crosses the equator crossbreeding donkeys with horses bears mules the gingko tree is divided by sex like humans scientists train chimpanzees to count one to ten we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

this minute, a man is becoming Picasso another is becoming Chairman Mao the fathers of the world master adversities, while the young demand they deny their life’s struggles we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

piles of leaves have been incinerated. Autumn, always autumn those who throw themselves into flames leave all sorts of questions when the majority have stepped from autumn into winter some old lady will still be wearing a flower in her hair we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

a gaunt man takes to the road, sitting between two salespeople on the hard seats of a train no one knows who he is, watching him munch sunflower seeds staring at the towns skimming past his window we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

this minute, a boy sticks his foot out from under a blanket his doting grandmother hurries to tuck it in such a little guy should be flying over the street bearing all the ardor and wisdom of life we live together on this planet of deserts and seas

Translated by Lucas Klein

 

Xu Bing