Celia

by Xue Di

Celia
     translated by Hil Anderson and Sue Ellen Thompson

I see you, with your panther eyes and the body of a lamb
among the cut gems of summer
laughing.  Your body leaning forward
in the lush, sunlit grass
hiding two locusts whole only desire is to leap.
Summer spreads its palm
over the land.  A child
sees the sediment of the adult world
reflected in the tear from an animal’s eye.  My
Celia:  when I speak your name
I feel sinfully guilty
I feel love, so pure
and cool it is like
laughter washing over me.
My nerves are so frayed
they can only sing remembered songs,
relying on memory’s keen palate.
I think of how young you are
compared to my nearly forty years.
I still write whole poems
for the sake of a single word, sacrificing a tuft of hair
for each line, my tears flowing in the dark.
Then the shame
of my effort, knowing that you
are my subject.

A child with panther eyes and the body of a lamb
In the summer of 1993, running
like a startled deer.  The news is rife
with murder and sex.  A poet
who is ashamed to say he writes poems,
a rock star threatened by scandal.

What I’m talking about is
spirit.  On a night like this, downcast,
I think of spirit.  Because summer
is closing its hand around me
I think of my gem, my Celia.