"Fireworks and Working Girls"
Fireworks and working girls
They've danced with abandon
Descending into loneliness in the end
Confucian moralists wouldn't agree:
These explosions in the heavens are a natural thing
We watch as we please reflect as we please
All has been illuminated corners once overlooked
If my will could ascend to the sky
I'd want to go to pieces too
In the quest for love I'd dance a proud dance
Anyone might surrender to lust beneath the moon
Even the moon adores its own ecstasy
If it were able
It would light its own fuse
Every flowery bone of its body
Scattered to the winds
The author of six volumes of poetry, Yongming Zhai first became prominent in the mid-1980s with the publication of her twenty-poem cycle, Woman, a work that forcefully articulated a female point-of-view in China's largely patriarchal society. Her powerful imagery and forthright voice resonated with many readers. Zhai has continued to hone her critique of traditional attitudes toward women, quickly becoming one of China's foremost feminist voices and a major force in the contemporary literary scene. She is also an installation artist and prolific essayist, and stages poetry readings and other cultural events at the bar she owns in her native Chengdu.
Andrea Lingenfelter received her MA from Yale University. She is also the translator of the novels Candy (Back Bay Books, 2003), Farewell to My Concubine (W. Morrow, 1993), and The Last Princess of Manchuria (W. Morrow, 1992). She currently lives in Seattle.