Unclaimed Grave

Note: Mary Tang, a poet I follow and who has been translating my Spring Songs series into Chinese, wrote recently about her grandmother’s life and death, and after reading those posts on her blog I was moved to write the poem below. It is posted with her permission, and directly below is her translation. 

Unclaimed Grave

If you die on a holiday expect      to be buried without ceremony
in the vacant space between      an extended celebration

and getting back to business      as usual but there is nothing
more usual than the dead       Above her unclaimed grave

power lines have been hung       where a marker might
have been a tree is growing       It may only be growing

because those lines opened       up the sky for it to grow
from the matter forgotten by       sons but the tree’s leaves

are her prayer flags       and the wind rushing the gap
are all the other sons       sweeping her grave, they remember

that we were all once inanimate       matter  we were all
each other’s mother even       unintelligent motion

generates respect and love     the hum of the old world’s
roots is louder than       a foot print on the moon


你要在春節離去 別寄望後人安葬
過年後便忙開工 你的遺體會被棄
在兩村間的廢地 好讓人如常作業
死人沒有不凡處 那無人打理的墓
頭上已高掛電線 像一個識別標記
墓中爆出了一樹 它可以長高快大
正是電桿的關係 天因它空了大了
子孫不掃的落葉      是她的頁頁禱告
掃墓的風是養子     記掛她變土為母
代她的子孫彌補     欠她的敬愛尊重
本來同是無命物    不論誰是子與母
樹根在土下沙沙    勝月中足跡無痕
(c) Mary Tang 2015

6 thoughts on “Unclaimed Grave

  1. Mary Tang

    Thank you for your poem in response to mine. It was therapeutic for me to translate it into Chinese. I only hope that my Chinese translation is worthy of your work.


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