Translation: Poems From a Wuhan Nurse

The following collection was written by “Wei Shuiyin” (弱水吟, given name Long Qiaoling 龙巧玲), who has been serving as a nurse in one of the dozen makeshift fangcang hospitals set up in Wuhan to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. Long is a usually based at Shandan County People’s Hospital in Gansu Province; since the outbreak of the , she has been fighting on the frontline of prevention and control along with her colleagues. When she received news that was in urgent need of medical workers, she volunteered to go to with a medical team. The original post of the collection, translated below, was deleted from WeChat but has been archived by CDT Chinese.

Please Don’t Disturb

Please allow me to take off my protective clothes and mask
To remove the flesh of my body from its armor
Let me trust my own health
Let me breathe undisturbed
Ah….
The slogans are yours
The praise is yours
The propaganda, the model workers, all yours
I am merely performing my duties
Acting on a healer’s conscience
Often, there’s no choice but to go to battle bare-chested
Without time to choose between life and death
Genuinely without any lofty ideals
Please, don’t decorate me in garlands
Don’t give me applause
Spare me recognition for work injury, martyrdom, or any other merits
I didn’t come to Wuhan to admire the cherry blossoms
And I didn’t come for the scenery, the reception of flattery
I just want to return home safe when the epidemic ends
Even if all that remains are my bones
I must bring myself home to my children and parents
I ask:
Who wants to carry a comrade’s ashes
Setting foot on the road home
Media, journalists
Please don’t disturb me again
What you call the actual facts, the data
I haven’t the time or the inclination to follow
Weary all day, all night
Rest, sleep
This is more important than your praise
I invite you to go look, if you are able
At those washed out homes
Does smoke rise from the chimneys
The cell phones drifting about the crematorium
Have their owners been found?

 

Little Sister, Tonight I’m Ashamed of the Praise

In the early hour of two o’clock
Thunder and lightning, wind and rain
The iron plates that blocked the doors have been overturned
A tiny figure was carried home by the storm
Floating like a scrap of paper
“Little sister, why did you come back early?”
“Hypoglycemic dizziness, group leader let me go”
“Forty-minute travel time?”
“A Wuhan taxi driver took me”
Face pale, voice weak
The thermometer at her forehead reads 33.1°C

A spray of disinfectant, wash hands, repeat
Wipe clean nostrils, ears
Monitoring the operation, my hand trembled
Through my protective goggles
I can’t tell if the drops on her face
Are tears or splashed disinfectant
Remove the mask
Forehead, nose, cheek, ears
Blisters, boils–accomplices of hypoglycemia and the cold rallying towards me
I’ve no strength to say anything
Any consolation will seem a false show of affection
Change clothing, shoes
Step back into disposable slippers
Shower in water above 56°C, don’t eat for a half hour

Everyone knows
Tightly wrap your body in protective clothing for a dozen hours
Don’t eat don’t drink don’t evacuate
Have to eat and drink less before starting work
Ah, protective clothing, how is there still a shortage?
Can you let her change to a new protective gown during the shift?
Even if work hours are extended?

The little sister who returned with hypoglycemia
So far I haven’t been able to remember your face
A hundred sisters
A hundred masks covering unknown beauty
Concealing how much hypoglycemia from my sight
Perhaps, there are things I can’t say

Little sister, no praise tonight
All songs of praise are guilty
All deceived consciences
Will kneel to you
Put on a facemask, the instant you turn
I suddenly call to mind
I should add another mask
Me, facing this erupting storm
Should I play deaf and dumb

 

Everyday

Haze, shady rain
Five days, damp and dismally quiet
Cold and cruel, tears and injury
These dull and murky words
How much I hope you stay away
At the guesthouse in self-isolation
Without time, without days
No sound and no air
Writing material, psychological intervention
Place a hundred fearful hearts in each respective palm
The trembling, the dread, the crying and despair
Throw it away with those muddied in poison
One person’s room
Is divided into a contaminated area and a clean area
Wash your hands, wash your hands. Mask, mask
Forced to correct all bad habits
Right now, everyone knows that a bat is responsible for the poison
And calling the crime poisoning is sketching it lightly
The poison from seventeen years ago is still fresh in my memory
Today is a carbon copy of yesterday
But the poison isn’t yesterday’s poison
People’s pampering gave rise to its cunning
Strong contagion is the fruit of their pampering
Very late at night, what I most want to do
Is give those bats hidden in their caves
Steel armor to put on
Engraved with the two characters, “Wuhan”
Leave all the blades with no handles
Leave all the teeth nothing to bite

 

Night of the Lantern Festival

Outside an eighth floor window of the Wuhan Jinlaiya Hotel
Lanterns already lighting the city
The splendor of skyscraper silhouettes
Clarifying the true colors of the night
Silent. Somber. Frigid.
I know that through the lanterns
Further and deeper in the background
Even more windows are black
Black as a cave, as a bat, as if swallowed up
Like a hidden poison with a flowery crown

In the darkness I stare into the distance
Look into the distance of the Yangtze, the Han River
The distance of the Yellow Crane Tower
The distance of the makeshift hospital
The distance of the Gansu Hexi Corridor
The distance of the Huangpu River in Shanghai
The distance of heaven using a long spoon to feed us all

The darkness still spreads
But I’ve no doubt, all is well
As the Lantern Festival moon rises
All is well, all is bright

[Chinese]

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