|Photograph by Charlotta Smeds, Perugia, Italy, 2021.|
The Peacock’s Cry
Midnight and it’s still noisy.
Rumbles of freight trucks
crash through the top windows
of this 21-story high-rise
to recount life’s hardships.
I turn a deaf ear,
anxiously swiping the screen to read news of Afghanistan.
I loathe the Taliban,
the countless Talibans, near and far.
An unusual bird song wings in—
clear, poised, slightly strident—
it calls, then calls once again,
urging me to listen.
“Ah! Is this a peacock’s cry?”
I call out in surprise. But,
why would I think it’s a peacock’s cry?
but run to the window anyway,
thinking I would see Xinhua North Road below,
and there, spreading its feathers, is a peacock, singing.
Of course, such a wondrous sight is impossible
and yet, everything is suddenly a complete vacuum.
—Woeser, Early morning, Beijing, August 16, 2021
(translated by Ian Boyden)