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From Guangxi to Jiangxi

I glimpse rice-gleaners bent to the ground.

In province after province

the vegetation yellows

in province after province

this country was once willing to pave the ground with gold.

Still there are always people at dusk

looking like bent black nails.

Who will come to admire the ancient sorcery

of rice-gleaners turning a bit of gold into a grain of rice.

Don't be like me hurrying along on the train

as though there's urgent business

crossing three provinces in a single day

occasionally noting the earth is still adorned with rice-gleaners.

I want to call for them to stand up

to see the faces worth the least gold

to see the color of sweat they produce.

November's Rice-Gleaners

Eleanor Goodman, translation from
the Chinese written by Wang Xiaoni

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