─to a faraway neighbor a year older than me
The sunlight in the courtyard moved to the tip of the straw cage
Intense garlic smell spread here
You wore cultural clothes, your face wearing a faint
smile, disappeared as your head lowered. The ascending smoke
told me, your assignment today has not been different
I could see the can of food stretched out its sharp aliasing teeth
Would it swallow the rest of your limited life?
But you, without hurry, cut the meat in small pieces
Cuboid, pyramid or half-cylinder
and finish it on the plate, without being very untidy
An explosive noise, all the meat was poured into an iron wok
Hissing, hissing, as if asking time to hurry up
You turned over the meat, and saw it turning golden
Sunlight now shone on the minced onion under the straw basket, your siblings
Raised their heads among one another, and stared towards you who was in the mist
How could you explain this joyous assignment?
I would like to tell you, I love your smile, I adore
you going back home in haste to take a pack of forgotten salt
hurrying up to go back to the stove to put off the joyous water
so that the water vapour would suddenly expand, and made my siblings amazed by the scene
Yes, today I still would like to observe your vivid and cheerful movements
That was your father’s hands and your mother’s gesture
Would you be satisfied just by the childhood games deep inside the forest?
You shook your hands, meat lying flat on the table, and time
Stopped abruptly, you think, it was time for your parents to come home
The sunlight in the courtyard now moved to the pot of plants under the minced union
Your siblings were sitting round the table
The meat cooled down, your parents received news
and had not come back home yet. What about you?
You still stare through the expanding thick layer of water and light.
When your parents were back, you said you had finished your homework today.
5 June 2006
Translated from Chinese by 高頌文 and 郭思琪