The steeple moans, the steeple groans,
the steeple says it’s time for bed:
“qíng shàng ba shuìjiào a!”
The hearth is cold,
the moon reflects an empty road.
One by one the stairways strain.
The stairs complain
of tired souls ascending to their rooms.
The curtains wretch and windows steam,
cigarette smoke is beaten by a ceiling fan.
Dreams of rain against the window pane
and weighty papers pressing on the desk.
The drawers are tombs for daily business,
laid to rest away from furtive eyes
uncertain that the day is done.
The window casts another set
of yellow trees behind the rooftops.
At seven-thirty-eight the night’s gone black.
The steeple moans, the steeple wakes the dead;
they rise from bed, ready to descend the stairs.