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Syndic Literary Journal

syndic No.47 ~ Cong Rong – Subtraction

 

Subtraction

Written by Cong Rong

Translated from the Chinese by Jami Proctor Xu

Narrated by Jami Proctor Xu

China

 

Rain submerges my city

Buildings enveloped with thunder and lighting

always remind me of a man closing a window in the rain

Rainstorms, fire alarms, shutting the doors and windows tight,

being cut off from the rest of the world

I begin deleting the contacts in my cell phone

 

The first one I delete is a chairman

His Yang-boosting liquor is

going on the market with great fanfare

The second one I delete is an advertiser

At a banquet he says he used to be a poet, too

The third one I delete is the mother of a child star

That child’s smiling face is more blank than an adult’s

 

Out of 1,000 calls, I’ve deleted 900

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and call relatives who’ve died

I haven’t deleted the QQ of my younger sister who died many years ago

The TV anchor holds the microphone anxiously reporting to the police

Every block has people who are missing

 

I just want to keep one friend in each city

 

I pause a few times over the phone number for Wang,

the head of the funeral parlor, and decide to keep it

 

Cong Rong is a poet, playwright, and cross-disciplinary artist, who graduated from the Shanghai Theater Academy. In 1999, she was one of the forerunners in cross-disciplinary exploration of poetry and theater in China. She proposed the idea of “Chinese Poetry Theater” and established the First Reader Troupe, focused on integrating poetry, music, and the body. She has published several books, of poetry, plays, and the film Season of Flowers, Season of Rain. She’s the recipient of a Golden Rooster Award, Huabiao Poetry Award, and Mo Tie Poetry Award, among others. 
Jami Proctor Xu is a bilingual poet and translator. She is the recipient of a Zhujiang Poetry Award and a First Readers Poetry Award. Her translations of Song Lin’s collection, Sunday Sparrows (Zephyr, 2020), received the Northern California Book Award for Poetry in Translation.

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Current issue:
Syndic No. 49
April 2022
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