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2016-03-11    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Someone Asks Me about Justice and Righteousness
Yang Mu

Someone asks me about justice and righteousness
in a neatly written letter
mailed from a town in another county, signed
with his real name, including social security number
age (outside my window rain drips on banana leaves
and broken glass on garden walls), ancestry, occupation
(twigs and branches pile up in the yard
a blackbird flaps its wings). Obviously he has
thought long without reaching an answer to this important
question. He is good at conceptualization, his
writing is concise, forceful, and well-organized
his penmanship presentable (dark clouds drift toward the far end of the sky)—
he must’ve studied calligraphy in the Mysterious Tower style. In
elementary school, he
probably lived in congested public housing in a back alley
behind a fishing harbor
He spent most of his time with his mother, he was shy and
self-conscious about speaking Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent
He often climbed the hill to watch the boats at sea
and white clouds—that’s how his skin got so dark
In his frail chest a small
solitary heart was growing—he writes frankly
“precocious as a Twentieth-Century pear”

Someone asks me about justice and righteousness
With a pot of tea before me, I try to figure out
how to refute with abstract concepts the concrete
evidence he cites. Maybe I should negate his premise first
attack his frame of mind and criticize his fallacious way of
gathering data, in order to weaken his argument
Then point out that all he says is nothing but bias
unworthy of a learned man’s rebuttal. I hear
the rain getting heavier and heavier
as it pours down the roof and fills gutters
around the house. But what is a Twentieth-Century pear?
They were found in the island’s mountainous region
a climate comparable to the North China plains
Transplanted to the fertile, abundant virgin land
a seed of homesickness sprouted, grew
and bore flowers and fruit—a fruit
whose pitiful shape, color, and smell was not mentioned in
Other than vitamin C its nutrient value is uncertain
It symbolizes hardly anything
but its own hesitant heart

Someone asks me about justice and righteousness
They don’t need symbols—if it is reality
then treat it as such
The writer of the letter has an analytical mind
After a year in business management, he transferred to law. After graduation
he served in the army reserve for six months, took the bar exams twice...
The rain has stopped
I cannot comprehend his background, or his anger
his reproach and accusations
though I have tried, with the pot of tea
before me. I know he is not angry at the exams, because they are not among his examples
He speaks of issues at a higher level, in a precise, forceful
well-organized manner, summarized in a sequence of confusing
questions. The sun trickles onto the lawn from behind the banana trees
glitters among old branches. This isn’t
fiction—an immense, cold atmosphere persists
in this scant warmth

Someone asks me a question about
justice and righteousness. He was the neatest boy in his class
though his mother was a laundry woman in town. In his memory
the fair-skinned mother always smiled even when tears
streamed down her face. With her soft, clean hands
she sharpened pencils for him under the light
Can’t remember clearly, but it was probably on a muggy night
after a fiery quarrel his father—his impassioned speech and heavy accent that even his
only son could not fully understand—
left home. Maybe he went up to the mountains
where the climate resembles the North China plains to cultivate
a newly transplanted fruit, the Twentieth-Century pear
On autumn nights his mother taught him Japanese nursery rhymes
about Peach Boy’s conquest of Devil Island. With sleepy eyes he
watched her rip out the seams of old army uniforms
and scissor them into a pair of wool pants and a quilted jacket
Two water marks on the letter, probably his tears
like moldy spots left by the rain in the corner. I look outside
Earth and heaven have cried too, for an important question
that transcends seasons and directions. They have cried
then covered their embarrassment with false sunlight

Someone asks me a question about
justice and righteousness. An eerie spider
hangs upside down from the eaves, bobs in the false
sunlight, and weaves a web. For a long while
I watch winter mosquitoes fly in a dark cloud
around a plastic pail by the screen door
I have not heard such a lucid and succinct
argument in a long time. He is merciless in analyzing himself
“My lineage has taught me that wherever I go I will always
carry homesickness like a birthmark
But birthmarks come from the mother, and I must say mine
has nothing to do with it.” He often
stands on the seashore and gazes far away. He is told that at the
end of the mists and waves
There is an even longer coastline, beyond them, mountains, forests, and vast rivers
“The place that Mother has never seen is our homeland’’
In college, he was required to study modern Chinese history and
he memorized the book
from cover to cover. He took linguistic sociology
did well in labor law, criminology, history of law, but
failed physical education and the constitution. He excels in citing evidence
knows how to infer and deduce. I have never
received a letter so full of experience and fantasy
fervor and despair with a cold, poignant voice
a letter that strikes a perfect balance between fervor and despair
asking me, politely, about justice and righteousness

Someone asks me a question about justice and righteousness
in a letter that permits no addition or deletion
I see the tear marks expanding like dried-up lakes
In a dim corner fish die after failing to save each other
leaving white bones behind. I also see
blood splashing in his growing knowledge and judgment
like a pigeon released from a besieged fortress under fire—
a faint hope of the exhausted yet persevering resistance—
it breaks away from the suffocating sulfur smoke
soars to the top of a stench-filled willow tree
turns around swiftly and darts toward the base of reinforcement troops
but on its way is hit by a stray bullet
and crushed in the deafening encounter, its feathers, bones, and blood
fill a space that will never be
and is quickly forgotten. I feel
in his hoarse voice that he once
walked in a wasteland, crying out
and screaming at a storm
Counting footsteps, he is not a prophet
He is no prophet but a disciple who has lost his guide
In his frail chest that pumps like a furnace
a heart melts at high heat
transparent, flowing, empty

(Michelle Yeh and Lawrence R. Smith 译)

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