Wang Ping



Define pain: a lonely ghost
A thousand cuts into the heart
A beast chews off the limb to get off the trap

You shouldn’t feel hurt, he said
It’s just a handshake, a business transaction
Nothing personal when I buy girls in Amsterdam

I have forfeited my power
I’ve let myself down

Teng — 疼: sick over winter

Who can describe pain—the most private from grief, trauma, anguish?
Who can cross the bridge to reach another’s sorrow?

The fire is chasing the forest
Biting the night with a screeching joy

I’m your forest
When the last tree is down
You’ll have nothing to hang

Tong 痛: sorrow to the heart’s content
Energy to move us into another ether

I’ve been there
Between the teeth of agony
Wondering how long I could go on
How many limbs I must lose to live

In the storm the copper heart churns and churns

Trust the sword, said Sensei
To cut, you must have faith
In the blade

I’ve been to hell and back

From the braided river
I hear the cranes
a wing span of three thousand miles
Mexico and Siberia on each side

A gift–on the tip of my tongue
WANG PING was born in Shanghai and came to the USA in 1986. She is the author of Ten Thousand Waves (Wings Press, 2014) as well as Foreign Devil (1996), The Magic Whip (2003), and The Last Communist Virgin (2007), all from Coffee House Press. Her work has won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities, the Minnesota Book Award, and an Asian American Studies Award. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, and Minnesota State Arts Board, as well as the Bush Artist Fellowship, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the McKnight Artist Fellowship.


Read more by Wang Ping:

Poem in Poetry
Three poems in La Petite Zine
Author’s website
Project site for Kinship of Rivers