Today is Chinese poet, writer, activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabobo‘s 55th birthday, which he ‘celebrates’ in jail. Below a poem of his written 9 April 1999, reprinted today in the German newspaper Tageszeitung in a German translation by Martin Winter, on which I base my version.
Wait for me with the Dust
(For my wife, who is waiting for me)
There’s nothing left for you to do
but wait for me with the dust.
Layer by layer
it fills the corners.
You keep the curtains closed.
The sun shall not disturb the dust.
On the bookshelves the signs are vanishing in dust,
the patterns in the carpet are gorged with dust.
When you write to me
you like to dip the pen in dust,
its particles then prick my eyes.
You sit there all day long
and don’t want to move,
afraid your feet could hurt the dust.
Breathing very quietly
you write a story with your silence
in these suffocating times.
Only dust is still faithful to you.
your gaze, your breath, your time.
In your soul
it builds a grave day by day,
inch by inch,
starting at your feet it
reaches chest and throat.
You know that the grave
is your best refuge.
Nobody bothers you
if you wait for me there.
You obviously have a special relation to dust
in the darkness in the suffocating stillness,
wait, please wait for me.
Wait for me with the dust,
refuse the sun, the flow of air,
until the dust buries you completely.
Fall asleep in the dust
until you wake up
when I’ll have returned,
you’ll wipe the dust from your skin, from your soul
and you’ll stand up, like a miracle.