Takeout Poem

Writer and poet Cao Shuying was born in Harbin in northern China, but is currently living in Hong Kong. The Dissident Blog publishes one of her poems—a poem where an unruly rebellious force is ever present: “There is always a child who wants to unbutton all the buttons,” she writes. This rebelliousness coexists with the stagnation of acceptance and a lulling everyday routine that threatens to extinguish any such rebellious impulse: “Take pleasure in the little things and go make some soup.”

June 13 2019 Text: Cao Shuying Translation from Chinese: Lucas Klein

There are always fingernails pressed in the aching mud
Night is approaching, seven million people sink into the slow village

There is always a child who wants to unbutton all the buttons
There is always a palm tree you shield as if standing beside your ancestors
There is always some white to be made into marks
Night is approaching, seven million people form teams to kick dreams

There is always a baby who is not cute and pudgy
There is always food that leads to a resistance
There is always hard rain overtaking light rain
Night is approaching, she makes her attack before seven million people

There is always a volcano living on the green grass
There is always some flower to misunderstand the universe
There are always skulls there to support us
Take pleasure in the little things and go make some soup
Night is approaching, seven million darknesses go silent all at once

Give me your ankles lightly touching the ground
Steal the dogs biting down on the post beside you
dogs eating fish eyes,
dogs orchids
dogs voyaging like whales
Night is approaching, imprisoned
in the depths of the apple that the crowd is biting

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Cao Shuying was born in Harbin in China but is today living in Taiwan where she works as a writer, poet, and editor for the cultural magazine City Magazine. She has an MA in Chinese and comparative literature from Peking University in Beijing. Among her publications are the collections of poetry Puppet (2002), Zhu Yu Suitcase (2005), and Golden Snow (2013).