Translated by Alexandra Draggeim
Nuosu Yi women performing a welcoming dance, Puti Village, Zhaojue County, Sichuan, 2012. Photo by Mark Bender.
Mushasijia Eni, whose Han name is Li Hui, is a member of the Yi ethnic group and hails from Jiulongren, Sichuan Province. He has been a member of the Chinese Writers Association since 2005, and his works include the poetry collections The Soul Has a Date, The Tribe and the Lover, and Highland Potatoes, as well as the script for the TV series Zhige’a’er.
The Embroidery Needle Made from a Water-Deer Fang
That embroidery needle made from
A water-deer fang—
Is it still fastened to the folded
Scarf in your hair?
Even with my dreams keeping watch,
Even in my soul’s distress.
The sky has darkened, Mother,
The golden-feathered rooster
Is hanging on the lintel upside-down.
There on the threshold
That deer-fang needle
Guides the white silver thread,
Waiting for my soul
To return to your embrace.
The sun has risen, Mother,
Open the carved wooden bowl.
The end of the water-deer needle
Is already pointing to your warm breath.
And at this moment, light shows itself
Throughout the stone-slab house.
Ah, that egg used to call back a wandering soul
You eat the yolk, and I’ll just eat the white.
The embroidery needle made from a water-deer fang—
Is it still in the felt pocket on your breast?
Can you still neatly embroider my soul
When you face the hills so lonely for so long?
From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 4 No. 1