Poems by Yi Lu

Volcanic Stone

Black gray
densely pierced with holes…..very light
at first the stone also feels like having a body
when flames are hauled away

I pick one up
put it on the desk
seeing it I’ll think of the mountain
and its suppressed interior

think of those lava pouring from icy mountain peaks
how it irons out in an expanse of white

think of the submarine volcano
even if it erupts…..it’ll still suffer the weight of the ocean
its pain in flames will last specifically longer

Touch it
even if it is a body
it still feels so hard…..like paresthesia

Pit of a Stomach

You’re inlaid in the center of the world
like a rock buried in a mountain
fissures are concealed in the rock
corroded water meanders inside
A mountain’s hard flesh
may also loosen up
The pit of a stomach
will also collapse one day

Lake, Again

Water when bounded becomes lake
people don’t care about where it comes from…..how it comes about
nor about the converging…..smooth-running…..spring in the lake bottom
how its refluxes collide…..intertwine
like superimposed vinyl records
that weave out lingering sentiments…..the past and present

The world has many lakes
some frozen…..some boiling at a volcano’s peak
some saltier than seawater
most fresh and cool, green and pleasing

Stillness is self weighing on self
many things are kept unwittingly

Broken Water

If the knife isn’t pulled up
water will break
If still not pulled up
water will keep breaking
If tucked in deeper
water will break deeper
Tucked in all the way
the knife sinks into the hard riverbed
the hand gripping it can leave now
Surface water no longer bears movement

Rain Pours Harder

Rain splashes on the roof
like on a skull

Splash…..is refusal
has a hard face

Fire seals itself into smoke
cornelian blood strands turn icy
even the ocean can’t move ashore

Why can’t the sky
have a door that shuts itself

Rain pours harder
at last into my heart

at last I join the rain
soaring as rain

Birds Have Flown Away

Birds are calling around me again…..a call
my consciousness is called away
so I stop what I’m doing

Birds call —
like clusters of burgeoning flowers
like strings of pulsating bubbles
My heart turns into a flower tree…..a lake
for a long while it can’t calm down

But birds have already flown away
when birds fly away it seems like goodbye


Yi Lu

Since the 1980s, Yi Lu has established herself as one of the most widely-read female poets in contemporary China. Born in 1956, she has authored four books of poetry, including the award-winning titles See (2004) and Using Two Seas (2009). Known for an elegant and distilled lyrical voice, her poems are at once meditative and vibrant. Recent national honors include the Hundred Flowers Award and the Distinguished Literary Prize from the Fujian Province. Serving as an active theatre design artist at the People's Art Theatre in Fujian, Yi Lu is also ranked as China's preeminent national scenographer and stage designer.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Fiona Sze-Lorrain writes and translates in French, English, and Chinese. Her recent work includes Water the Moon (Marick Press, 2010). Co-director of Vif éditions and one of the editors at Cerise Press, she is also a zheng concertist.

Copyright (c) Yi Lu, 2011. English translation copyright (c) Fiona Sze-Lorrain, 2011.