Translated by Steve Bradbury
In the Mountains Near at Hand
We identify the plants, in the mountains near at hand.
The cigar grass and pencil-box tree, the airy songs of the birds
and sinking lake. The road being quadrangular,
we also sport our floppy hats, to ward off the hard
When the empty pen & paper squeeze between the trees,
the sublime becomes a kind, green.
The names of all the flowers and plants begin to flicker
but as we climb are soon snuffed out.
“Sniff and see,” he says.
In a torn leaf, a single pupil
burns, burning our far-flung hunger.
In the mountains near at hand,
we identify the plants, moreover eat as many as we
can. The mountain heights are quadrangular too.
Ye Mimi is a young Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. A graduate of the MFA Film Studio Program at the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently The More Car the More Far (Taipei: Garden City Publishers). Many of her poems are inspired by dreams, both by specific dreams she has had but also by the quirky ways in which dreams are cobbled together. Other poems seem to compose themselves when she is seized, for example, by a particular rhyme or alliteration that won’t let her go. Her best poems combine these sources of inspiration and tend to be written in a “white heat” over two or three days. She rarely talks about individual poems, but made an exception in the case of “A Moth Laid Its Eggs in My Armpit, and Then It Died,” when the English translation appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review a few years ago: “I really did have a dream that a moth laid its eggs in my armpit and died. It was just the sort of thing you’d want to call up all your friends and tell them about. That’s why I added all the stuff about phone booths. I’m more interested in playing language games than in communicating ideas or expressing my feelings, but in this case my feelings about telephone booths seem to have crept into the poem. I love a good phone booth and think it is sad how they are all disappearing now that everyone in Taiwan has a cell phone. I suppose you could say ‘Moth’ is a kind of elegy to that vanishing social space.”
Emily Capettini is a fiction writer originally from Batavia, IL. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and her fiction has appeared in places like Noctua Review and Stirring: A Literary Collection. Her critical work can be found in Feminisms in the Worlds of Neil Gaiman: Essays on the Comics, Poetry and Prose (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012) and is upcoming in Neil Gaiman in the Twenty-First Century(McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015). She currently lives in Maryland.