Very White Moonlight by Wang Xiaoni – translated by Arthur Sze

The moon in the deep night lights every sliver of bone.

I inhale blue-white air.
The world’s trifles and smatterings
turn into sinking fireflies.
The city’s a carcass.

Nothing in this life
matches this pure night color.
I open curtains at the window:
before my eyes, heaven and earth join in argentine white.
In moonlight, I forget I’m a human being.

The last scene of life
is quietly rehearsed in a shadow of plain color.
Moonlight reaches the floorboards:
my two feet have already whitened beforehand.

Wang Xiaoni, internationally well-known poet from China, is ethnic Manchu, born in 1955 in Changchun City, Jilin Province. After graduating from the Chinese Department of Jilin University in 1982, she worked as a literary editor in the film industry in Jilin and Shenzhen. From 2005 to 2010, she taught poetry at the School of Humanities and Communication, Hainan University. She started publishing poetry in the 1970s and has so far authored 25 books of poetry, essays and novels. She was awarded An Gao Poetry Award (1999), Poet of the Year by the Poetry magazine (2012), Poetry Award from the Southern Media (2004), Rou Gang Poetry Award (2008), Pearl River Poetry Prize (2012), shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize (2015), nominated for the Li Bai Poetry Award (2017), and Poet of the Year by the Cao Tang Poetry Journal (2019).

Arthur Sze is a poet, translator, and editor. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, including The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2021), Sight Lines (2019), for which he received the National Book Award; and Compass Rose (2014), a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has also published one book of Chinese poetry translations, The Silk Dragon (2001), selected for the Western States Book Award, and edited Chinese Writers on Writing (2010). His poems have been translated into over a dozen languages, including Chinese, Dutch, German, Korean, and Spanish. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts.