Shanghai, Spring

Shanghai, Spring


The NYU Shanghai Weekly quotes,

“The riot of flowers sway to dazzle the eye

The grass sways shallow, just horse-hoof deep.”


Yet, the smell of disinfectant covers

the fragrance, cold lockdown

hides the soft, itchy touch of spring grass.

Fresh air becomes a luxury, 

please breathe, breathe with all muscles, 

such a chance would only appear

when taking nucleic acid tests outdoors.

Will a peony forget the warmth of the sun

if it is sentenced to a cage for two months?

Birds do not have the right to cry,

they just witness.


“Please contain the soul’s desire for freedom.”

Says the officials.

“Wind will bring seeds to distant places.”

Says the dandelions.


The spring grass always remembers the Qingming Festival,

in tales, a time when the deads’ souls will come back.

Many more will return to Shanghai this year:

The elderly died of asthma, suffocated,

hopeless at the last minutes, rejected

by the ambulance for the infected only;

the nurse died on her way between clinics

because her working hospital was closed without alert;

the corgi smashed by a shovel three times on his head 

to death, fell to the pool of his blood, as he attempted 

to chase after his owner who was taken away to quarantine.


Rain in solitude, mourns for the new losses

at their unfinished graves,

may it brush away the tears.


Note 1: Description of the Qingming Festival

Note 2: The quotation from NYU Shanghai Weekly comes from a classical Chinese poem 钱塘湖春行, by 白居易 Bai Juyi, the 5th and 6th lines. Here is a version of the translation, (though translated a little differently.)


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