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Dictation

By
February 3, 2014

To Zhou Mengdie

Dictation
I’m of a mind to sit up straight
And dutifully take dictation

Extending my hand
I say I’m up for it

Today being Wednesday
I really feel I’m up for it

And so I go to India

In India the music has no beginning
It has no end in India
You cannot ask

A person’s whereabouts
In India to say where are you off to is bound
To weaken everyone’s resolve for the person being asked
Is likely to have second thoughts in India
While the person asking is liable
To wonder if this question meant
For someone else is not
A question for oneself
In India those who can sit
Ought not to stand those who can lie
Ought not to sit or else
The whole lot can squat back on their heels in any case
Don’t ask in India
The music is endless inexhaustible world without end
The hues are electric phantasmal so limpid they rend
In India they simply do not ask

What is it you don’t get? How could I have lost you?
As if our coming together were at the forking path between two labyrinths
There is no end to way down south and yet it has its ends they say
The man who leaves for Ye today will promptly get there yesterday

For reasons that have long escaped me
I fled like a madman who imagined he had lost his head
And so I came
Later still later
I came upon a foreign land of a foreign land
And was enlightened to the fact that I will never be enlightened
Like you and when you do
Do let me take dictation

G

Author Image

Hsia Yü is the author and designer of six volumes of groundbreaking verse, notably Pink Noise (2007), a bilingual collection of English-language poems and computer-generated Chinese translations printed on crystal-clear vinyl in pink and black ink, and, most recently, Poems, Sixty of Them (2011). “Dictation” is from her fourth collection, Salsa, her most popular volume to date. She lives in Taiwan, where she has a sizable popular following and co-edits the avant-garde journal and poetry initiative Xianzai Shi, otherwise known as Poetry Now. A full translation of Salsa, translated by Steve Bradbury, is forthcoming in a bilingual edition available from Zephyr Press in the early spring.

Feature image by Mike Stirling

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