Translated by Sheng Qu
Mo Du was born in 1965. He is a writer and poet of the Hani ethnic group in China. A member of the Chinese Writers’ Association, he won the Sixth China Minority Literature Award for his major work Watching the Village. His other well-known works include the prose poetry collections A Village Gate (Galheiq Galtuv in Hani romanization), Silence, and Go Out in Spring.
A Village Gate
A village, a gate.
A strand of straw rope serving as the village gate hangs by the village entrance halfway up the
mountain, sometimes with a pheasant head, sometimes with a dog tail: mysterious, quaint,
simple, and sincere.
These kind-hearted people were once displaced and suffered from calamities, praying for peace,
health, descendants, and strength.
Close the gate and don’t let illness come inside.
Close the gate and don’t let evil come inside.
Close the gate and don’t let hideousness come inside.
Simple wishes were born inside this old threshold, caring for broken hearts and giving birth to
Year after year, fellow countrymen sow in spring and reap in autumn halfway up the mountain,
caring for the chimney smoke that used to be thin, strengthening the families of the village.
The footsteps passing through the gate will grow louder and stronger.
In this world, no gate can be simpler than this one: only a straw rope hanging over two thin
In this world, no gate can be firmer than this one: built by the united hearts of the entire people.
Time passes like water, yet the gate remains the same.
The village gate leaves an imprint on the hearts of all who left their roots inside.
From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 4 No. 1