1989, the year flooded with wheat by Xiao Yin – translated by Mimi Chang

—many poets started to write pastoral poetry that year
now we are trapped in the image of wheat—
we’ve escaped the cold winter
but failed to escape
from the wheat kernels
and the sharp chaff
that hurt our bodies deeply
what else can I say
what else am I able to say
things that look like wheat
spread along all the paths this year
and they don’t give us time to sit down
to reckon calmly on those non-wheat 
of last year, their sound and shape
it would be a wishful thinking to think about 
a moment when I can think quietly 
without wheat entangling around
summer rain pours into the wheat field
and runs through the empty space
between stalks and stems
this year, tons of poets chew on the wheat—
we’ve lost the excitement when seeing 
the first ear of wheat appear in sight
now that this year will be nourished 
by wheat that’s going to fill the hungry stomachs 
and we will no longer eat wheat as staple food
what else shall we sing about?

Xiao Yin is a poet and novelist from Xichang, Sichuan province of China. She founded the first women’s poetry journal in China in 1988, Women’s Poetry Paper.  She graduated from the writers program at Beijing University in 1995 and then moved to Maoming, Guangdong province in the south. She has published several volumes of poetry, essays and novels and is currently the chairperson of Maoming Writers’ Association.