The following is my translation of “Crossing Half of China to Be With You” by Yu Xiuhua (余秀华). Yu Xiuhua (b. 1976) is a Chinese poet based in Hengdian, a small village in the Hubei province. Her ideas and experiences regarding love, disillusionment, rural isolation, societal injustice, and disability are documented in her extensive works of raw and poignant poetry, as well as the documentary Still Tomorrow (2016).
“Crossing Half of China to Be With You,” which went viral on WeChat in 2014, has already been translated by many. My slightly euphemistic rendition, which I offer below, is but one personal interpretation and offering. It is not officially authorized by the poet.
Crossing Half of China to Be With You
Actually, giving it or taking, it’s about the same, just
the force of two bodies colliding, just the force of a flower blooming
just this flower’s virtual spring that we again confuse for life
Across China, everything is happening: volcanos erupt, rivers run dry
political prisoners and refugees are ignored
deer and cranes are held at gunpoint along the way
I’m crossing a sea of bullets to be with you
I’m compressing countless nights into one dawn to be with you
I’m running countless I’s into one me to be with you
Of course I’ll let a few butterflies lead me astray
Let some admiration turn into spring
Mistake a soundstage for home
are all the reasons why I absolutely must be with you.