Poem for a Tuesday — “Love Poem Earth” by Shu Ting
I love earth
Just as I love my wordless father
Earth breathing warmth with its rivers of blood
Earth fermenting with sweat, fertile with oil
Quickening slightly under the strong plow and bare feet
Rising and falling from heat at the heart’s core
You must shoulder bronze statues, monuments, museums
But sign the last judgment on the line of the fault.
My frost-crusted, mud-coated, sun-cracked earth
My stern, generous, indignant earth
Earth granting me skin color and language
Earth granting me wisdom and strength
I love earth
Just as I love my compassionate mother
Robust earth covered with kissprints from the sun’s lips
Collector of leaf-layers, of sprouts springing up after sprouts
Time and again abandoned by man, never abandoning man
Creating each sound, each color, each curse
And still you are called dirt.
My lead-lustred, red-pooled, white-spotted earth
My rough, lonely, untended earth
Earth granting me love and hate
Earth granting me pain and joy
Father grants me an infinite dream
Mother grants me a sensitive heart
The lines of my poems
are the sounds of the gramtree grove
Day and night sending out to the earth
its incessant shower of loveseed
— in Smoking People, chapbook 19. The Beloit Poetry Journal, vol. 39, no. 2, Winter 1988/1989, page 20.
Shu Ting is a modern Chinese poet associated with the Misty Poets, a group of 20th-century Chinese writers whose work speaks to the restrictions on art during the Cultural Revolution. After her father was accused of ideological aberrance, he moved the family to the countryside to avoid government scrutiny. She began writing poetry at age 27 and published in the underground journal Jīntiān. During the “anti-spiritual pollution” movement of the 1980s, Shu and other writers were deemed subversive and faced strong criticism from the state.