the burning kite :: ouyang jianghe
translated by Austin Woerner
What a thing it would be, if we all could fly.
But to rise on air does not make you a bird.
I’m sick of the hiss of champagne bubbles.
It’s spring, and everyone’s got something to puke.
The things we puke: flights of stairs,
a skyscraper soaring from the gut,
the bills blow by on the April breeze
followed by flurries of razor blades in May.
It’s true, a free life is made of words.
You can crumple it, toss it in the trash,
or fold it between the bodies of angels, attaining
a permanent address in the sky.
The postman hands you your flight of birds
persisting in the original shape of wind.
Whether they’re winging toward the scissors’ V
or printed and plastered on every wall
or bound and trussed, bamboo frames wound with wire
or sentenced to death by fire
you are, first
and always, ash.
Broken wire, a hurricane at each end.
Fire trucks scream across the earth.
But this blaze is a thing of the air.
Raise your glass higher, toss it up and away.
Few know this kind of dizzy glee:
an empty sky, a pair of burning wings.