Screwing Screws on the Assembly Line

Screwing Screws on the Assembly Line

In response to the interest in Chinese worker poetry stimulated by the late Foxconn poet Xu Lizhi, Chuang is continuing to translate poetry by Chinese workers.

Zhou Qizao is a wandering proletarian who has worked in and around Shenzhen since 2004. He was then 19. In the course of 11 years, he has worked variously in metal factories, electronics factories, printing factories, auto parts factories, in retail stores and as a security guard. The following is a poem he wrote while working at Foxconn.

 

Screwing Screws on the Assembly Line

我在流水线上拧螺丝

by Zhou Qizao (周启早)

 

I
我在流水线上拧螺丝
Screwing screws on the assembly line
螺丝在流水线上拧我
The screws on the line screw me
我们是两颗狭路相逢的螺丝
We are two screws meeting on a narrow road
拼却一身的力气
Exerting all my strength
拧血拧汗拧乡愁
Screwing blood, screwing sweat, screwing homesickness
却拧不出
I still fail to screw out
那个原来的自我
The me I used to be
II
流水线上的每一个人
Every worker on the assembly line
都是一颗旋转的螺丝
Is but a turning screw
皮影戏里的木偶
A puppet in a shadow play
身不由己摆弄着荒诞离奇的舞姿
Dancing despite itself strange dances
转痛转泪转流年
Turning pains, turning tears, turning fleeting time
却转不出
I still fail to turn out
贫穷荒凉的影子
The shadow of poverty and desolation
III
零件加工零件
Parts process parts
螺丝从不关心别的螺丝
Screws never mind other screws
只顾及自己脚下的位置
They mind only their own positions
悬崖上的舞蹈
Dancing on a precipice
一步都不能错
Not a step can be mistaken
稍有不慎
An instant of incautiousness
便无立锥之地
Takes away your foothold

 

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