mother says blood is thicker than water
and I wonder if rose-tinted viscosity
obscures reality and feeds
into gnarly family trees
twisted canopies seek sunshine
in carefully constructed forests
filled with fake dew-drop perfection
and find no nourishment
in tired soils, overturned
we can’t just bury
the wretched hatchet
we must use it
toil until the sun rises
and the earth heals
let the rain wash us away
then we will finally be
This is a poem I have been sitting on for a very long time because I couldn’t really craft it into something I was 100% happy to let out into the world. After months and months of pulling my hair out, I’ve decided that I’ll never get there so I decided to publish it instead of letting it continue to gather dust in my drafts folder.
I really struggled with translating this poem. When you have a limited vocabulary, it’s very difficult not to translate too literally and reduce the subtle differences of bitter/mournful/sorrowful to just plain old sad. At the same time, I also possibly tried to overcompensate by using words that I don’t fully grasp that may be awkward or completely out of place.
The biggest problem however, was that as far as I knew, the term ‘family tree’ doesn’t exist in Chinese. Just to be clear, people definitely study genealogy in China but they do not have an analogy with trees. Extending that metaphor is essentially what my whole poem is based upon so…thankfully I gave myself permission to take a few more liberties/translate more loosely!