(In Memory of Ma Hua and Ma Yan)
Two years ago I found this paper-boat incense
in Double Village
west of Lake Peng in Taiwan Island,
but the two of you were already
one in the sky making white clouds into snow mountains,
the other catching gusts of dust
from the deep night.
You are both far, in that high place,
with Mandarin wings.
The way you travel forward
is becoming a long poem, one light-year long.
Stars are reading you.
Perhaps you visit each other and take out
the treasured time from your wings
and let the other keep. The two of you, if you can really
meet up there, perhaps you can share how we miss you
from down here— we miss you
like a memory that doesn’t know how to bear itself.
The sky is open blue for you
you tipple a little wine, grin,
and the sky blooms— in its own distances.
Let me light an incense for you,
the Double Village paper-boat incense,
let it burn,
burn out two beams of light.
There are no rivers or oceans in that high place,
may your young bodies surge like full sails puffed with wisdom.
Now I notice the words printed on the paper boat,
“Brave guys don’t leave.”
And this is exactly what I wanted to say.
If you didn’t go, if you didn’t go…
* Ma Hua and Ma Yan are two of the most loved poets in contemporary China but died young in recent years. They were not related to each other as Ma is a common family name in China. (Translators’ note)