Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Sha Ma

Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Sha Ma

Article excerpt

Translated by Sheng Qu

Sha Ma is a poet from the Yi ethnic group and is a member of the Chinese Writers Association. His publications include poetry anthologies such as The Olive Tree in Dream, The Fluctuations of the Soul, The Injury of Phantom, Collected Poems of Sha Ma, and prose works such as Illusory Face. He has won numerous national and regional folk poetry prizes since 2000.


In winter, the red-winged birds fly above the southern highlands

During the long winters

The humid air makes people cry

That is when the firebirds fly here

Their feathers soaked in raindrops and ancestors' souls

Their sharp roars like pine needles

All across the village

People run away, crying: Firebirds! Firebirds!

A ritualist chats with people, holding red flowers

While the firebirds fly over

Petals instantly fall

Smoke curls up from the kitchen chimneys of cabins

Splendid smiles on the faces of elderly men

Float like the thousand-year-old light of the Mountain God's stone

Nobody has made the trip in a long time

Weeds cover the mountain road

The old mother at the door looks up to the sky

"My children, do you see the gods' messenger?"

At this moment, except for crying

Don't say a thing

Don't! …

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