King Hong Kong • Fu Tei (虎地)

Sok Kwu Wan Ferns

A Little Breathless

Here the road just goes to show —
actually, there is nowhere else for it to go,
since whatever the destination is that’s hardly really essential.
Perhaps the road makes its way through me
just as much as I do through it, brushed
by fringing fishbone ferns,
vegetable cordon that holds back the press
of dense overgrowth, pushing up behind it
out of stone, aged hills. Trees, yes,
and the winding path, but there’s not much else
for the eyes to see particularly
rather, a feel for the whole no eyes can ever see
gentle as felt has started to make its creeping present tense
heart-felt against me.

The Duty To Be Happy

Nearest, there was no one there —
I was a poor Everest to anywhere,
proud and self-pitying mountain.
But then the whole world is here to see!
I am all eyes for uncharted territory —
ant-shaft of a shadow, the pixel-dot-face of a lantana flower,
the shift of a breeze
calling over and over the many names for feathers
and — for power.

Why Not Make Music of Yourself?

Absolutely without melody, the heavy-duty chain
shines padlocked and silver
on the no-through, reinforced gate, but
in the mesh-fence sagging with the passage of years,
curiously someone has cut a vertical slit
close to the place where the first rank overgrowth
flocks. Through the gap, in a clearing,
there’s a wide cement slab complete with steps
steadily wishing the unbuilt dream of a hill-top house
still standing virtually upright out in the ownerless air.
These days, it best serves as an unlikely launch-pad
for drones and the daydreams of overcrowded strangers,
and as a look-out for loners —
those misunderstanding lovers — from which to observe
every single new moon as it carves through the rock
of Tuen Mun’s jaggedest mountain.
At the slab’s furthest edge, a young woman
furtively breathes through the round sound-holes
of her flute, content in her efforts
to exact from the raucous
clumsily an exit from whatever it is that’s closing her in,
and to make in this fading twilight meaning
some small, just music of herself.

羅榮輝 • 《獨行》/ Teddy Law • “Solitary Walking”

Teddy LAW Cover 1

Translator’s Introduction

The following extract is from a wonderful book on the wild places of Hong Kong called 《咫尺山林》by Teddy Law 羅榮輝, first published in 2016 by EDGE/Roundtable Synergy Books. If you love hiking in Hong Kong and you can read Chinese, I think you’ll find it hard to resist this practical-poetical account of twenty-nine Hong Kong hiking journeys. But if you can’t read Chinese, here’s a small taste of Teddy’s take on heading off into the hills on your own. I think you’ll find he manages to distil a lot of rich thinking in a very short space.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

獨行是領略自然的一個方式。它是專注的,坦誠的,赤裸的。踏著土地,逐漸與自然融合,悄然地成為其一部分。與自然無阻隔地對話,更能讓人走進內心深處。自然讓獨行者為其景色而喜悅之際,也同時帶來撫慰,給予一個重新認識自己的機會。獨行者從自我認識中開始欣賞自己,相信自己的價值,進而發掘人生的目標與意義。對獨行者而言,這可能是在某個人生階段的機緣賦予的一把鑰匙,開啓自我尋找的大門。只是方式跟別人不同罷了。
As a way of coming to appreciate nature, solitary walking is absorbed, candid, naked. Making foot-contact with the Earth, gradually you merge with the natural world until ― without even noticing it ― there you are: part of it. This direct, unobstructed dialoguing with nature is even more conducive to finding a way into the deepest parts of a person’s inner life. At that moment when nature allows the solitary walker to take delight in its scenery, there is also then consolation and a new chance to get to know oneself. From this knowledge of self, the solitary walker begins to appreciate herself, to believe in her own value, and thus to bring to light the goals and meaning of her life. This may provide solitary walkers with a key at a particular stage in their lives, opening the gate to a self they have been searching for. We all do this: it is just that solitary walkers do it in their particular own way.

然而,社會上對獨行卻有截然不同的見解。坊間不但認為獨行不可取,甚至認為是一種不負責任的行為。傳媒報道獨行的意外事故時,論調也傾向於將獨行歸咎為主要原因,也有輿論指在事故發生後,需要浪費社會資源進行救援,而救援人員也需冒著生命危險執行拯救任務,批判獨行者往往只顧一己歡愉,而做出損人累己的行為。獨行也常予人一種孤僻的觀感。大眾可能會有一種偏見,認為獨行者都有社交或溝通上的障礙,或是一種心理失衡狀況的反顯。
However, society’s views on solitary walking are quite different. Out in the broader community, not only is solitary walking regarded as being undesirable; it is even considered to be a form of irresponsible behaviour. When hiking accidents are reported in the media, the coverage tends to attribute most of the blame to walking on one’s own. Opinion is also directed at what happens after an accident: the social resources that are wasted in rescue operations, and the risks to their own safety run by rescue personnel in carrying out such operations. Solitary walkers are criticized for generally thinking only about their personal pleasure, engaging in a form of behaviour that benefits them at the expense of others. Solitary walkers also often give people the impression that there is something gu-pik or “uncommunicative and eccentric” about them. The community may therefore nurse certain prejudices, believing that solitary walkers are lacking in basic social and/or communication skills, or that their behaviour reflects some kind of psychological imbalance.

誠然,獨行具一定程度的風險。但獨行事故的發生除了意料之外的因素,很大程度也與一些控制範圍以內的因素相關,包括遠足經驗、行程準備、路況認知、身體狀況、天氣狀況,以及遇事時的應變方法。這些老生常談的觀點,甚至是遠足最基本的考慮因素,卻往往是最容易被忽略。因為獨行最大的危機在於未能謙遜地評估風險,以及未能坦白地承認自身能力的不足。然而,將獨行定性為一種高風險的活動,殊為可惜。
To be sure, walking alone involves some degree of risk. Apart from unforeseeable factors, however, the occurrence of accidents involving solitary walkers can to a large extent be put down to certain factors that lie within an individual’s control such as hiking experience, preparation for the walk, knowledge of path conditions, one’s physical condition, weather, and skills in responding to emergencies. Such commonplace notions ― the most basic things even to consider when going on a hike ― are often the easiest things to overlook. This is because the biggest difficulty facing solitary walkers is not having appraised the risks with sufficient modesty and not having acknowledged with complete honesty any inadequacies in one’s physical strength. To define solitary walking as a high-risk activity is a great pity.

不論是為自由、空間、挑戰、或親近自然而出行,這個體驗過程都可讓人更了解自己,進而演化成自我的追尋。可以說,獨行是孤而不僻,開闊而不狹隘的。獨行對心靈和精神都發揮積極作用,塑造正面的思維與價值觀,繼而作出生活與行為的改變。我們珍惜生命的價值,不該只是狹義地存活,而無視心靈層面的追求;我們重視公共資源的合理運用,不可僅僅考慮意外發生後對社會資源的耗損,而否定獨行對一個人思想行為的啓發,從而對社會作出的正面影響。
No matter whether you set off for the sake of freedom, more personal space, the challenge to yourself or to get close to nature, undergoing such an experience can help a person to understand themselves, thereby transforming hiking into a quest for the self. Walking on your own is, I think it is fair to say, gu or “solitary” but not pik or “weird”, an opening out and not a narrowing down. Solitary walking has a positive effect on both the soul and the spirit: it moulds a positive way of thinking as well as a positive set of values, leading to a transformation in both one’s life and one’s behaviour. Cherishing the value of our lives does not mean reducing everything to our narrow existences and remaining indifferent to any pursuit of the spiritual; proper regard for the reasonable use of public resources cannot be reduced to the mere waste of such resources in the event of an accident, thereby depriving us of the enlightenment that solitary walking brings to an individual’s thinking and behaviour and the positive influence this in turn has for a society.

獨行有其兩面性,但它本身並不可怕,可怕的是它只有一種片面而負面的解讀。漠視獨行的本質,抹殺獨行的深層意義,如同摧毀一條自我尋找之路。
Solitary walking has its good and bad points but, in itself, there is nothing terrible about it. The terrible thing is to interpret it in a manner that is only one-sided or negative. To be indifferent to the essential nature of solitary walking and to write off its deeper significance is to obliterate one route to our finding of ourselves.

願有一天,獨行不再是一種忌諱。
It is my wish that one day solitary walking will no longer be something people resent or avoid as being harmful.

Translated by Simon Patton

《蛙文》/ Frogscript 13 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!

《蛙文:蛇》

郭少鳳著

最近喺 YouTube 上睇了一套英國製作,叫 Travel Man 嘅旅遊節目,其中一個環節係由一位香港土生土長嘅後生女帶著兩位節目主持人,去食香港嘅地道美食。嗰個後生女居然帶咗主持人去食蛇 – 蛇羹!唔係呀嘛?雖然我知道老一輩嘅香港人覺得食蛇羹好補又可驅寒暖胃,但係我估唔到連後生女都會將蛇羹當美味佳餚咁推薦俾外國人。

蛇羹係我於心有愧嘅一種飲食文化,中國人鐘意食野味,專門捉啲野生動物嚟食,食到幾乎絕種,龜就係一個活生生嘅例子,金錢龜喺呢幾十年由易見變成瀕危。我暗暗地擔心蛇都會面對同一命運。

其實除咗呢個後生女之外,好多香港人都鐘意介紹啲古靈精怪嘅「地道食材」俾外國人,唔知係咪想炫燿我哋「精彩」嘅食材,定係間接咁話外國人嘅食材太單調,總之就係想俾到驚喜佢哋,但究竟俾到「驚」多啲,定「喜」多啲呢? !呢種「咩嘢都敢食」嘅飲食文化係咪真正值得保留同推廣呢? !我自己覺得如果能夠運用獨特嘅烹調技術,將簡單嘅食材變成美食,係更加值得敬佩,我估呢個係廣式點心深受外國人歡迎嘅原因。

喺香港生活嘅蛇都算多災多難:記得啱啱搬嚟林村時,舊鄰居會喺啲明渠度灑硫磺粉驅蛇;又見過大叔們討論佢哋點樣用木棍打蛇,仲叫我唔使驚,安心住喺林村;有時行出村口嘅途中,會遇見慘死嘅蛇,心中暗歎: 呢啲蛇真係生錯地方,村民總當佢哋係仇人咁看待,真係好可憐!

其實我都驚蛇,記得有一次去咗九龍坑山行山,嗰度梯級特別多,因為不停不停咁向上行咗好多梯級,頂唔住,要飲啖水,坐低休息下。咁我哋隨便揾個地方坐低,突然同行友人叫我唔好郁,唔好四圍望,叫我冷靜咁慢慢企起身,轉左行兩、三步。照吩咐做完,我慢慢轉身望返自己坐嗰個位置,見到有條啡褐色嘅蛇,佢見到我哋之後都好快走咗去。朋友話返俾我知,條蛇坐喺我身邊,幾乎掂到我嘅身體。因為條蛇同我坐嘅地方嘅顏色都差不多,係啡啡、泥土咁嘅色,所以我坐低時都冇留意到佢。雖然唔知嗰條蛇有冇毒,但嗰一刻就好驚,驚到腦裏面聽到嗡嗡聲,其他咩嘢聲音都聽唔到。不過我估條蛇見到我哋兩個都一樣咁驚,冇腳都急急腳咁走!

蛇係十二生肖之一,屬蛇嘅人對蛇都應該有一點點好感。照估計平均每 12 個香港人就有一個屬蛇,但係蛇喺香港嘅地位真係太低,香港人對蛇實在太殘忍啦,太唔公平,我諗我哋都要了解蛇多一點點。

其實蛇係一種好犀利嘅動物:唔知大家有冇諗過,蛇都冇手冇腳,佢點樣行呢?蛇係爬蟲類動物,原來係靠佢身上嘅磷片同埋肌肉一收一放咁行。蛇嘅骨頭好重要,試想一想:如果蛇係冇骨頭支撐著身體,咁條蛇就會好似條繩咁軟淋淋,想郁都郁唔到,但如果只有一兩條骨,咁就好似一枝棍,或雙節棍咁,咁又係郁唔到,或者郁得好遴迍,想像一下嗰情景都覺得好攪笑!但我哋見到嘅蛇通常都係身手敏捷,神出鬼沒,唔好睇佢哋細細條,佢哋可以有高達400 塊細細塊骨頭;人類一般係有206塊骨頭,可想而知,蛇比人敏捷係有先天優勢嘅。

蛇係肉食性動物,為咗生存,所以要捕食。我估大家都知道蛇會將成隻獵物吞落嗰肚度慢慢消化,但佢哋嘅獵物通常都好大隻下,咁點吞到呢?我唔可以唔讚佢哋嘅身體結構。佢哋上顎同下顎唔同我哋,佢哋冇韌帶連著,所以可以將個口擘到好大,佢哋又冇我哋心口嗰塊胸骨,啲細細塊嘅肋骨係分開,所以可以吞到比佢身體更粗嘅獵物,係咪好勁呢?

大自然係弱肉強食,適者生存,蛇有蛇嘅生存技倆,我哋需要尊重。係香港呢個地方,喺過往嗰幾十年,真係冇咩關於蛇咬死人嘅新聞。我相信大自然已經提供足夠嘅獵物令蛇可以生存到,因此蛇都冇咩騷擾我哋,噉,我哋可唔可以都俾條生路俾蛇行呢,唔使一見佢哋就殺,佢哋好多時都只係蕩失路,我哋只要將佢哋送返樹林屋企,大家就可以和平共處。

Hong Kong Snake_20 OCT 2018

Hong Kong Snake. Photograph by Evette Kwok, 2018.

Continue reading “《蛙文》/ Frogscript 13 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok”

Painting (When She Brings the Horse in To Drink)

Long Liyou Painting

《飲馬》:龍力游(油畫)/ “Watering the Horse” by Long Liyou (oil painting)

The big brown horse,
head down in a wood trough,
drinks cloud off a paint sky. That blue too
is her undrunk dress,
but supreme wear and tear overpower
all colour
with texture’s weathering slow second nature.
A long leather strap
tethers her to the creature, symbolic anchor
in survival’s solid world.
Actually,
fenced in by a short forest-barricade
of silver-birch stumps,
she has allowed inattention
and daydreaming half-thoughts
to wander beyond the stern-alert head of her husband
(he’s busy laying down new bone)
and over the farmhouse roof
to where time and space in an untoward next door
gently engage
the mind of this curious human.

The Conquest of Flight

2018-10-06 School Road Horses 2_CROPPED

FOR ANNELIESE BERGLIND

I resign for a time from Spartan aspirations
to lean comfortably into generously massed cushions
my self-inflicted restlessness.
It pleased me in such company
to oppose each stage of a sham shape-shifting anxiety
with the definitive crisp contour
of a miniature gherkin — how sweet
its sour crunch along my teeth.
Our conversation wandered like a hot-air balloon:
to remain gently aloft within sight of a curious view
was our only goal. We wondered humorously
about the word “gormless”, and whether
anyone in the history of the English language
had ever possessed an excessive amount of gorm.
We spoke of Tintagel and the magic
in cold stones we still hanker after,
having lost in real life any essential thrill of enchantment.
Why did the Swedes drown more than their ordinary sorrows
in alcohol? Why does the trilled r of a cat’s purr
generate a buoyant physical peace? The afternoon dissolved
through champagne into evening, yielding
to night’s stellar open-ended questions.

 

Just What the Snapshot Snaps Shut

Cheung Chau Temple_APR 2016_REDUCED

Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau (April 2016)

How should we be taken
in photos, so that astronomically we feel
most comfortable with ourselves? Here’s me,
Malvern East State School 1968
Grade 1M, squeezed between
Wayne Kent and Russell Butcher
in the middle row, while twenty-two other kids
also do their best to manufacture for the lens
awkward collective separateness.
We’ve all done it for countless cameras,
constellating as families,
friends, colleagues
in conglomerate isolation,
forcing smiles and holding our breath
for the frame. To me, it’s never felt right,
ever. Just why that is I realized only recently
when I saw a black and white picture
dated 1918
of fourteen people — mainly women —
with Ida Woods at far far left
and sheepish telescope operator Frank E. Hinkley
at far right. They stand there fixed
like stars on a star-chart
in front of some august old building, but
they do something else,
simply and with near perfect naturalness:

they all hold hands.