They always greet me with this:
‘Come here alone, have you?’

But wherever I go I bring my shadow
…forever and forever, it is the shadows that have helped me
By lighting up the surroundings

When there is no light, I fold it
Inside my body
It is not till I rise and move around
That I draw it out
—that is a feeling I like
It’s like drawing out part of the darkness inside my body
Like the used-up feelings or individualism
Like a handle
—although no one could get hold of it
Even as I leave, it manages to extricate itself
From a complicated situation

Truth, secrecy, transformation…like the soul’s
Double dwelling
The shadow that sways
Enough to sustain my stability and when sleep
Presses us tightly together
—I prefer to merge into one
To dream is to enjoy and to remember
Is to disappear
—not even the sunlight could separate us
I carry
A soul’s abbey
Matter that is more immaterial than light

Written in Chinese by Hu Xian

Translated into English by Ouyang Yu

Author: Ouyang Yu

Ouyang Yu came to Australia at the age of 35, and, by 57, has published 65 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese languages, including his award-winning novel, The Eastern Slope Chronicle (2002); his collection of poetry in English, The Kingsbury Tales (2008); his collection of Chinese poetry, Slow Motion (2009); his book of creative non-fiction, On the Smell of an Oily Rag: Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian (2008); his book of literary criticism, Chinese in Australian Fiction: 1888-1988 (2008), and his translation in Chinese, The Fatal Shore (forthcoming in 2012). His second novel, The English Class (2010), won the Community Relations Commission Award in the 2011 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, as well as short-listed for the 2011 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the 2011 Western Australia Premier’s Awards and Queensland Premier’s Awards. Ouyang Yu was nominated one of the Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians for the year 2011 as well as the Top 10 most influential Chinese writers in the Chinese diaspora. Ouyang is now professor of English at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.

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