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Black hair like youth

Runs wild in March.

Dark papery leaves fly

Teeming, swarming,

Bum-rushing March.

Black hair in March

Is gentle, strangers’ eyes

Softer. Memory:

A feast on offer. Youth,

Born of the primordial sea—

Embrace me. Drape my skin

Old as clouds

In something suppler.

Black hair

Blown free, rootless,

Wanders the desert’s

Countless tombs, sways

Across a vacant sky,

Whips at fresh mud in rain.

Days blaze past. I have

Lost sight of my own black hair

In the mirror. Let me

Watch it now

For the next thousand years.

Black hair weedy

In dirt-poor soil.

Thirsty, deluded,

Squandering its spoils.

Black hair has no idea.

The story of black hair

Is my story.

When I die, let me drift

Like a dandelion

Of black hair.

Black hair

Like holy water

No way, there is no way

To be saved except to die.

When black hair cries,

Itsw tears snuff themselves out

Like candles.

So will my life cease to flicker.

Black hair

Exhausted brush fire

Fanned by misery


Through the last century.

Black hair, ?Shredded black flag

Of a women’s glory

Ragged and battered

In March wind.

Forsaking dignity

Absolved of chastity

With its pride in knots

Black hair smiles easily

In March.

If waterfall, it will plummet.

If cloud, it will scatter.

Eyes plaintive, wide,

Black hair waits to be spun

By hardened hands

Into rock.

March 25, 1987

Black Hair

Tracy K. Smith & Changtai Bi, translation from
the Chinese written by Yi Lei

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