translations by Chun Yu 俞淳
Our Map for Falling
We are puppets, all parts of us
connected by strings, by loose wishes
like chords finding each other across
the belly of a guitar. No lone danger
would dare steal our arias, yours more
upper range and beautiful than mine
can or should be,
as when we fall we remember all of it,
every alive, unborn, or dead edge
of tulips and bees, as we pull back
to ourselves, gathering ourselves
on floors of whatever.
We should know this by now,
the floor—our walking, falling place,
is the ceiling of the ocean beneath
us where we with pain and joy remake
each day of the past
with the power of what is lifted up
to toast what might have been—
where It all that lives on the other side
of a window with no glass, or anything
that can break.
One evening years ago, I held you
a month into your fiery monkey year,
the monkey in our navels, its antics
coming and going. I held you,
while we were held by what keeps us
from falling all the way, your toes
painted red, your hair a bluish fluff,
on that piece of earth, and we fell
and fall and fall again,
into each other, laughing, breathing,
sending shudders to puckering lips
of fish in oceans beneath us, all purple,
all silver, all gray, all brown, all yellow,
translation by Chun Yu 俞淳
那地板 — 我們行走、跌倒的地方，
In Los Angeles airport I sit
stunned by the English, letters
harsh things with no stories
I know. The food smells dead,
metal forks and knives set
for making war against food.
I am undone and done again,
broken off from narratives
of birth and being, of limits
broken by the genius of slaves.
I stand here where I was born,
and the masks wait for me.
From City of Eternal Spring. Copyright © 2014 by Afaa Michael Weaver. University of Pittsburgh Press.
Afaa M. Weaver 尉雅風 is a native of Baltimore. His new collection of poetry is A Fire in the Hills (Red Hen, 2023). He has worked in translation projects focused on living Chinese poets. Afaa began reading the Dao De Jing and studying Taijiquan in his twenties. In 2002 he received a Fulbright appointment to teach in Taiwan and began studying Mandarin as a faculty audit at Simmons University. He moved to Taiwan in 2005, where he completed the intermediate course at the Taipei Language Institute. At Simmons he convened two conferences focused on contemporary Chinese poetry in 2004 and 2008, hosting poets from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In 2005 he received the Gold Friendship Medal from the Chinese Writers’ Association in Beijing, and in 2019 he received the 96th Medal from Taiwan’s Chinese Writers and Artists Association. Dr. Chinghsi Perng, Professor Emeritus at National Taiwan University, gave Afaa his Chinese name, 尉雅風. Afaa received his M.A. in Creative Writing from Brown University.