The Garden This Afternoon Poem by Yang Lian

The Garden This Afternoon

This afternoon has always been that afternoon Flowers with the faces of bats laugh even more happily Hospital windows like the whites of the eyes of staring corpses Afternoon seemingly fragmented Scent of flowers invited into the homes around Ash swirling from chimneys turns more colourful The false teeth of angels are exposed Holding down age like holding down a skirt lifted by a wild wind With a laugh a cruel spring Another laugh and the sound lifts the garden to heaven Things not imagined will never be born People living close to wounds detect smells Wounds drenched by rain split exude fragrance A garden crams in all afternoons Bodies are decked with paper flowers paper the only decoration Bones shine black branches sprout bone-like nodes In the depths of corpses the petals of flowers gestate Worms crawl about under skin This loneliness is sweet and rancid there is always This loneliness when the soil of the heart is crumbled by roots When each hospital has been gift-wrapped Wounds are bright and lush in the sunlight Looking so real Cicadas keep drinking blood keep Creating heartless laughter from an empty shell And even happier gardens proliferate everywhere Gradually disintegrating with the shrill cries of bats Subtle fragrances of an afternoon roll up the world Leaving not even wounds leaving only the swollen moon Still the colour of flesh still watching over an unblemished black night

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