Eleanor Goodman



They will die, the ones you
love best
from murder        face-eating cancer
lungs drowned in blood             no matter

the others you save
in imagined heroisms
as though each broken fall
of someone else’s father

or every wish
of health extending
into loss like a vine
bearing nothing

is a stay against it

is a comfort to anyone
but yourself
at our end
there is this sickness

we call hope
and further there is nothing
between beauty and terror
nothing half-living has

over death                                and yet
the illicit thump
of every wasted heartbeat
the love of strangers

who will also die
on streets you’ve never seen
of wounds you couldn’t heal—
their luminescent eyes in the wreckage.


Eleanor Goodman

Eleanor Goodman is a writer and a translator of Chinese literature. She is a Research Associate at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University, and spent a year at Peking University on a Fulbright Fellowship. She has been an artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome and was awarded a Henry Luce Translation Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her book of translations, Something Crosses My Mind: Selected Poems of Wang Xiaoni (Zephyr Press, 2014) was the recipient of a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Grant. Her first book of poems, Nine Dragon Island, will be published this year.