Pearls by Zheng Min

Leonard Durso

How many years have you slept on the sea bottom!
Time has not passed in vain,
A rainbow of light flashing over your uneven shell
Glitters freely, suffused in coral pink.
A true pearl
Is not the perfect one.

Pearls cultivated on a production schedule
Have a regular, plump-eared surface.
A handful of them, all the same size,
Show off their brilliance encircling
Pretty wrists and necks; they are most perfect,
But they are not real pearls.

Nothing seems more like pearls than virtue does:
The truest probably don’t look the most beautiful,
The most beautiful probably aren’t the truest.
My heart and soul are always
Enchanted by the uneven pearl
Because it carries messages from the ocean
And owns a sincerity for which I yearn.

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

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