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Reading with Coffee


/Yang, Chi-chu

1.Title: To Beethoven’s “Moonlight” (寫給貝多芬的月光)

The Earl Grey tea in the bone-china cup, emblazoned   

With a rose totem, inverts the image of the dim, blue moon.

Stars are sprinkling in the dark tea, 

Slowly dissolving and stirring up infinite whirl.    

But you have never move your glance at your master’s sipping;   

The bone-china cup is more attractive than the way you play the piano. 

 “Moonlight,” the spontaneous overflow of emotions.

In love with many, you forgot to present the master’s daughter

A melody. The sonata tapping on the piano 

Fittingly serves as a statement of your love.

Years later, a kiss mark remains on the cup.

Speculation has it that you’re in deep love with your master’s daughter

And your secret afternoon-tea meeting with her unexpectedly    

Morphed into a love letter, spreading by word of mouth.

I drank alone the lento moonlight,

Lost in the rosy lunar shadow.  


2.Title: Stewed Potato and Meat (馬鈴薯燉肉)

The 309 Anti-Nuke march was being televised. 

The potato was peeled and then diced,

Waiting to be stewed soft.

The rally concerted all the protestors’ hearts--far into the night.

Onion and carrot being fried with hot oil, the cutlets of meat

Mumble words of farewell before being dropped into the pan. 

Mind and body, everyone wears a No-Nuke sticker.

A can of chicken soup, mixed with bonito soy source, 

Into it was poured potato to be stewed with spices.  

What did the government say when the march ended?

Don’t worry; stewed potato and meat can never fail.


3.Title: Pineapple Cake (鳳梨酥)

As the Taiwan-island-shaped pineapple cake is savored,     

Packaged with food quality assurance,

Stuffed with Guanmiao’s local pineapple,  

Sour ‘n sweet,

That old-time wax-gourd filling has been forgotten.   

Decades ago in the countryside   

Teeming with big wax gourds,    

Neighbors shared pineapple cake,       

Piling up kindness piece by piece,       

And the leftover cake went to  

The pastry chef, to be         

Fully cooked and fried--     

A tradition of cherishing food.      

The insipid wax-gourd filling--    

A test of the chef’s ingenuity--    

Blended with various aromas, 

Surprisingly played up to  

The yearning of sweet desert.      

Kneaded into dough in pieces, the pineapple cake   

Wafted a hometown sentiment through the air.

Today the island-shaped pineapple cake 

Goes for local pineapple filling instead,

Cased with the island’s splendors,

Along with a tropical flavor, sour ‘n sweet,

Spreading across shopping malls:

The genuine Guanmiao pineapple cake


Know nothing but Taiwan in their mouths.

Translated by WANG Ching-Lu

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