Sarah Stanton

Photo--Sarah Stanton--BigSarah Stanton grew up in Perth, Western Australia. Halfway through university, she abandoned a promising career in not having much of a career when she transferred from an opera performance course into a Chinese language major, having fallen for the Middle Kingdom more or less overnight. Three years, two exchange programs and one potential firework accident later, she has settled in Beijing as a freelance translator and editor specialising in contemporary literature. As a writer, she has been published in a variety of magazines and indie projects, including Clarkesworld, Voiceworks, Hunger Mountain, Cha and Conte. She is a recipient of the Talus Prize and was recently shortlisted for the James White Award. She blogs at and tweets @theduckopera.


Midnight, Minus Three

Winter comes to Beijing like an old coat,
or perhaps a threadbare tide;
not a hurried cold—no, not yet so old
as an angry man—but careful, slow, and weaving herself from wind after wind,
snow after snow

            like a shroud for a warm corpse
            laying itself out on the street
            at last to rest, and breathe—

then, tugging like a baby at her own sleeve
she sees to them, the hot potato women,
the quiet men crying corn,

            to the dusty coats and supplications
            and the sparrows blown like buttons
            in a storm.


Harvest Festival

mulberrying by moonlight, out
in the sun’s full fruit and the sick,
glazed expression of desire;
out in the ripe clinic of collecting,
of undressing trees. alone is best

for this: one tremor, one kiss,
and the berries will fall—

scatter from pale to violet,
from the twitching green
of the newly born
to the final purple of food.

mulberrying by moonlight, burying
each arm in a thousand leaves:
juice hunting, the sweet cemetery
of bulbs at your feet, the curt wind
pressing nothings to your ear,
the bullying breath gathering up
its solo and shaking the berries,

their parted lips away
until each pail is full,
starbitten, stalk-yearning,
and you gather home,

steadied on the ready moment,
your skirt bullied up to the moon.