《蛙文》/ Frogscript 16 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!

《蛙文:臭屁勒》

郭少鳳著

我曾經聽到一個好難回答嘅問題:「我哋成日叫人愛護大自然,保護動植物,記得曾經有人問我,當啲蚊咬佢時,佢應唔應該拍死啲蚊呢?定應該要愛護佢,俾佢吸血呢?」我哋平時會即時消滅啲蚊。對於曱甴都會咁樣。噉,臭屁勒呢?我哋對臭屁勒會用點樣嘅方法先至啱?

唔知有幾多人聽過臭屁勒呢種昆蟲?住喺村屋嘅人一定唔會陌生,佢哋經常會喺屋企出現,亦會喺啲衫褲内產卵。好幾年前,我喺屋企窗邊嘅蚊網上見過佢哋啲蛋:淺粉綠色嘅,一粒貼著另一粒,整整齊齊分成兩、三行,都算幾靚,所以由得佢哋。過了大概兩個星期,記得有朝返工經過見到啲蛋終於孵化成蟲,一次過見到十幾隻BB幼蟲,都覺得幾得意!當日放工返到屋企,打算第一時間再同佢哋打招呼,點知全部走晒。

我將呢個經驗同同樣住喺村屋嘅好友講,佢話啲臭屁勒一啲都唔可愛,仲話如果我家嘅貓貓同佢哋玩,我就會知「味道」。當時心諗,齋聽個名,覺得佢哋會放臭屁,咁最多咪俾佢哋臭下啫。

直到最近,繼細細個同曱甴有肌膚之親後,我同臭屁勒又有親密關係:當時啱啱沖完涼,坐咗喺客廳嘅櫈上,突然聞到一陣怪味,陣味唔係好難聞,起碼唔係會令我作嘔嘅味道,但真係好怪,係帶有杏仁味嘅一種強烈怪味,不過我好肯定唔係我嘅淋浴露嘅味道!

嗰陣味實在太強啦,我掀起我件衫聞下嗦下,想確定係唔係件衫洗得唔乾淨,一嗦,我就聞到陣味係從我身上發出,再嗦再望,啊!救命呀!見到一隻手指公咁大、棕黃色嘅臭屁勒,企咗喺我肚皮上,喺肚臍上小小嘅位置,好驚,本能反應係將佢捉住,隨手扔出,然後我即刻衝入冲涼房冲洗被臭屁勒踩過嘅肚皮,肚皮有小小痛,開始痕癢同紅腫了。途中隱若見到我家貓貓即刻想去捉隻臭屁勒,最終應該係我老公將隻臭屁勒捉走並放生。

由於同臭屁勒有咗肌膚之親,一定要認識清楚佢,於是上網揾揾資料,臭屁勒嘅學名係荔枝椿象,原來寄居喺荔枝樹、龍眼樹上,吸食佢哋嫩枝、花、果嘅汁液,怪唔之得,成日喺種左好多果樹嘅村莊出現。再睇睇資料,嗰隻臭屁勒當時一定係受驚,所以向我噴出臭液想嚇退我呢個敵人,輕微焯傷咗我嘅肚皮,攪到痕癢紅腫咗一個多月。

咁我當時應唔應該拍死焯傷我肚皮嘅臭屁勒呢?我哋同大自然相處時,究竟應該如何取得平衡?!其實,蚊子、曱甴同埋臭屁勒都有同一個特徵:身體脆弱,冇乜辦法保護自己。不過,佢哋都被迫創造一套零舍與眾不同嘅方式,嚟維持自己嘅生命。我哋雖然好難接受呢啲昆蟲所帶嚟嘅麻煩,但係起碼可以佩服自然界有咁豐富嘅創造力。

frogscript stink bugs

“Stink Bugs”

by Evette Kwok

I once overheard a tricky question that wasn’t easy to answer: “We are always telling people to protect the natural world and to take care of plants and animals, but I remember someone asking me whether she should kill a mosquito if it bit her. Shouldn’t we let it suck our blood if we want to look after it?” In most cases, we kill the mosquito. The same goes for cockroaches. But what about stink bugs? What is the right way to go about dealing with stink bugs?

Continue reading “《蛙文》/ Frogscript 16 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok”

Event • Death of a Christmas Tree 2013 (Festival Walk 又一城, Kowloon Tong 九龍塘)

festival walk christma tree

In January they finally dismantled the giant Christmas tree,
its Bethlehem Star a cyclops eye that stared at the denudedness.
Its absence loomed through the shopping centre for days,
a huge spruce vacancy over-shadowing polished granite floors.
For weeks in November I was all eyes to its myriad bud-lights:
they’d twinkle in my moods blinking non-stop
through all the stations of an artificial electric spectrum.
The shift from blue to deep purple — an indefinable-perplexing
blue/purple in-between-ness — was a favourite transition;
perhaps it matched the glow of my eclipsed, home-sick aura.
There was nothing in that place I ever wanted to buy,
apart from a decent cup of coffee. I used to stand staring in
at the windows of the florists for the sake of orchids and irises
and lilies, too beautiful for money or for words.
They put the whole business of novelty to shame, really —
the novelty leaking inevitably out of luxury everywhere
like air from a slow balloon or the portion of charge
in a battery — or like the life out of all of us hypnotized
by the behind-the-tall-plate-glass-windows. I felt my moods
swing too through the muzak: one track was a sudden door
into a vivid bloodstream; the rest were the same door
softly slammed in my face with a faint lipstuck smile
and a curt gestured “no!” or an ingenious piece of window-dressing,
trompe-l’œil that only pretended to open into any place remotely different.
Uniformed women skilled in minimum visibility patrolled the levels
carrying rustic twin-lidded baskets for the discreet removal of litter.
I saw them panic, once, when a customer smashed a paper bag
containing two bottles of French red wine on the ground —
its stain was a vomit of glass and blood on their pristine work.
To say hello to one of them, just once, from the heart,
would have been my crowning achievement,
but I never managed, never even managed to catch an eye
with some badly pronounced trite Cantonese phrase.
You can’t make light of people like that, too real for words.
You can’t possibly do anything to light up the christmasless heights
of that multi-storey pain.

《文化途徑之外嘅「小文化」》/ Off the Beaten Heritage Trail in Fanling

2017-12-04 Fanleng Yellow Flowers 1 RESIZED

香港粉嶺崇謙堂嘅「野花王國」Field of yellow flowers, Shung Him Tong, Fanleng.

Simon Patton 著

因為每次嚟香港都住沙田一間酒店,所以香港朋友已經出於攪笑,鐘意用「沙田友」呢嘅名稱稱呼我。不過,我心裏有嘅秘密,好少同其他人講:其實,我同時亦都可以算係「粉嶺友」。
Whenever I go to Hong Kong, I stay in the same hotel in Sha Tin, and so friends of mine there take pleasure in jokingly referring to me as a Saa Tin yau or “Sha Tin friend”, a term used in Cantonese for residents of that town. However, I have a hidden secret that I rarely tell anyone: actually, I could also be considered to be a bit of a “Fanling friend” as well.

你或者會即刻問到粉嶺究竟有乜吸引人嘅地方?當然,唔少外國遊客第一次去粉嶺正係因為嗰度設立嘅龍躍頭文化俓。其實,呢條文化俓經過嘅地方真係有意思,包括崇謙堂教堂,幾個圍村(麻笏圍,老圍,新圍),天后廟,鄧氏公祠等等名勝古跡。老實講,我自己初次去「發現」粉嶺亦都係因為呢個緣故。不過,而家去粉嶺另外仲有一種更加吸引我嘅因素:聯和墟熟食中心。
Your immediate response to this might be: What’s so interesting about Fanling? Many visitors to Hong Kong are naturally drawn to Fanling for the first time because of the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail that has been established there. The sites of historical interest along the trail are in actual fact quite interesting, places such as the old Christian church of Shung Him Tong (sung him in Cantonese means “worshiping humility”), several walled villages (Ma Wat Wai, Lo Wai, San Wai, among others), a Tin Hau temple, as well as the big ancestral hall built for the Tang clan. To be perfectly truthful, my own original “discovery” of Fanling was because of this trail. Now, however, there is something even more enticing that keeps me coming back to Fanling: the Cooked Food Centre at Luen Wo Hui Market.

澳洲係一個講求方便嘅國家,超市因此早就打敗咗原有嘅街市。香港雖然亦都深受「方便主意」嘅消極影響,但係到目前為止,仍然可以揾到唔少熙熙攘攘嘅街市,而且其中大多數都設有熟食中心。
Australia is a country which makes a big song and dance about convenience, and the markets here were soundly defeated by supermarkets long ago. Although Hong Kong has also been adversely influenced by this “convenience-ism”, quite a number of bustling wet markets can still be found to this day, most of them with their own cooked food centres.

喺聯和墟嘅門口搭扶手電梯去熟食中心,第一間見到嘅舖頭就叫「添仔蝦餃」,特別鐘意食蝦餃嘅我就自然而然揀喺嗰度食早餐、食晏。除咗蝦餃之外,我仲好鐘意食「添仔蝦餃」嘅腸粉同埋粥,真係好好味,食嘢時亦可以順便欣賞周圍環境中嘅人間戲劇!
When you ride the escalator at the entrance to the Luen Wo Hui Market up to the Cooked Food Centre, the first shop you see is called “Tim’s Prawn Dumplings”, and for someone like me who is especially fond of eating haa gaau, it is perfectly natural that I should choose to go there for breakfast or lunch. Apart from the dumplings, I am also rather partial to the cheung fan and juk (congee) served at Tim’s Prawn Dumplings ― the food is really tasty, and while eating I can also enjoy the spectacle of the human comedy being played out all around me.

tin zai haa gaau

粉嶺聯和墟熟食中心「添仔蝦餃」Tim’s Prawn Dumplings, Luen Wo Hui Market Cooked Food Centre in Fanling, Hong Kong

記得有一次喺「添仔蝦餃」食蝦餃嘅時候,我同另外一位顧客搭檯,當我嘗試同佢講幾句唔鹹唔淡嘅廣東話時,佢就開始用一口流利嘅英文同我傾計。其實,佢係喺沙頭角長大嘅,但係好多年前決定離開香港,去英國定居。就係佢第一次介紹「喼汁」俾我知,從此之後,我每次喺「添仔蝦餃」嗰度食蝦餃都一定會加上少少喼汁,個人覺得咁樣食效果真係好好,同時我會諗起教識我「喼汁」呢個單詞嘅沙頭角人。其實,我學習廣東話嘅過程中有好多類似嘅例子,通常第一次學到一個嘅新單詞同一個具體嘅人物、一個具體嘅地點、一個具體嘅場所,都有密不可分嘅關係,令到香港好多地方已經變成活生生嘅獨特辭典喇!
I remember one time when I was enjoying some prawn dumplings at Tim’s, I shared a table with another customer. When I tried out a few phrases of my half-baked Cantonese on him, he replied in fluent English and we got talking. He told me that he had grown up in Sha Tau Kok but had left Hong Kong many years ago to settle in England. He was the man who gave me my first introduction to gip jap vinegar, and since that meeting, religiously I add a dash of it to my prawn dumplings whenever I eat at Tim’s. I think the flavours combine rather well and, at the same time, I recall the man from Sha Tau Kok who taught me this word. In actual fact, in the course of my study of Cantonese, there have been many examples of this sort of thing: it is often the case that my learning of a new piece of language is closely bound up with a specific person, a specific place, and/or a specific occasion, with the result that many parts of Hong Kong have become a kind of living dictionary for me!

喺「添仔蝦餃」食完蝦餃之後,我就會漫步行向粉嶺東邊嘅麻笏河,即係文化俓開始嘅地方。如果有心機,我就鐘意去睇吓俓上嘅土地公社壇,麻笏圍大門口上面嘅門楣石匾(石匾係用一種特別搶眼嘅紅色岩石造成),加上嗰間天后廟——入邊嘅「千里眼」同「順風耳」兩神嘅雕像做得零舍精緻,栩栩如生。
After I’ve had my dumplings at Tim’s, I head off at a leisurely pace eastwards in the direction of the Ma Wat River, the location of the starting point of the heritage trail. If I am in the mood, I like to go and take a look at the Earth God shrine, the inscribed lintel stone at Ma Wat Wai Walled Village (this inscribed stone over the entrance-gate is made from a particularly eye-catching red stone), as well as the Tin Hau Temple there ― the statues of the two spirits Chin Lei Ngan (who has eyes to see a thousand Chinese miles) and Shun Fung Yi (who has ears to hear a pin drop in Heaven) inside the temple are wonderfully worked and extremely lifelike.

有時當呢幾樣嘢都冇法引起我嘅興趣,我就會喺文化途徑之外揾其他樂趣。第一,經過崇謙堂時,喺石盧附近,右邊有一條路仔可以一直行到一個基督教墳場,呢帶嘅氣氛非常安靜。第二,喺行往麻笏圍嗰段路時,左邊要經過一片荒地,呢度早就變成野花嘅王國,除咗我特別鐘意嘅薑花之外,開花季節平常亦會有好多好多不知名嘅大黃花!黃花盛放嘅花國真係會令到經常神經緊張嘅我瞬時獲得紓緩。
But sometimes, when I do not feel like seeing such things, I go in search of other pleasures off the beaten heritage track. First of all, after passing the Shung Him Tong Church, and not far from the derelict mansion known as Shek Lou, there’s a small road off to your right that goes all the way to a Christian cemetery, an area that I find very peaceful. Secondly, as you walk that section of the road that takes you to the walled village of Ma Wat, there is a deserted stretch of wilderness to your left, which has transformed into a kind of kingdom of the wild flowers. Apart from the ginger flowers which I am particularly fond of, enormous numbers of large yellow flowers the name of which I don’t know can be found here when things are in bloom. When I visit this kingdom of blooming yellow flowers, I get a moment of relief from the anxious self I normally am.

第三,行到俓尾時,即係龍躍頭嘅新圍嗰度,我有時會一直往前面繼續行,過咗梧桐河就向左邊轉彎,沿住河旁鋪有嘅馬路一路行到上水,一面白日發夢,一面欣賞行路本身嘅姿勢。到達上水,如果覺得肚餓,我都可以順便去一趟石湖墟,叫一碗雲吞麵慰勞自己。
Thirdly, at the end of the trail, at the walled village of San Wai in Lung Yeuk Tau, I sometimes press on straight ahead, cross the Indus River (the Cantonese name Ng Tung actually refers to the Chinese parasol tree), and turn left, following the road along the river all the way to Sheung Shui, day-dreaming and appreciating the movements of my own body in motion. If I happen to be feeling a bit peckish by the time I reach Sheung Shui, I make my way to Shek Wu Hui for a bowl of wonton noodles as a reward for all my efforts.

Heat-waving at 45 Degrees Celsius. . .

summer eucalypt jan 2019

They’re such sky-oriented people, geared to changing weather, sings Joni Mitchell in her song “Paprika Plains”, and since my move to Chinaman Creek, my orientation has shifted noticeably skywards, too. Especially in Summer.

The other day, I noticed a small bird sitting very still out in the backyard. It was a sparrow. We have a problem here with birds hitting windows and stunning themselves, but this one was nowhere near glass. As soon as I scooped it up in my palm, I knew it was dead. From days of intense heat.

And then there was the frog. Frogs here take shelter in the metal canopy that houses the outdoor blind, and sometimes they manage to get themselves squashed into unhappy two-dimensional replicas of their former living selves when we wind up the blind of an evening. I don’t know why they seek refuge in such an unlikely place, but I am grateful all the same that they manage to survive in such weather. This frog had one of its back feet caught in the tightly rolled up blind, and was making a very shrill, plaintive cry. I got up on a chair and tried to prise its foot free with a knife. When that failed, I tried a chopstick. But no luck. We were on the point of despair — the frog was still screaming in discomfort — when all of a sudden it jumped down from the canopy and into the fish pond. Thank goodness, we thought, it could still hop.

Yesterday, it was 43 degrees. Today, the temperature is supposed to reach 45 degrees. Celsius, that is. Actually, the sky at the moment is a bit murky rather than clear, filled with high-blown dust from the Outback. Flies crowd around the doors in buzzing swarms, trying to sneak inside, as the hot air takes hold. Strangely, heat seems harder to describe than Winter chill: I feel it uncomfortably close to my face, and there’s an unpleasant pressure at the base of the throat, as if someone were pressing a couple of fingers aggressively into my skin. I check the vegetables, and I make sure the bird-bowls are full of water, and then I head back inside. Even the handles of the tin watering-cans burn. But I still can’t form picture of that Summer sensation.

Earlier today, for the first time ever in my life, I saw an eagle land on the ground and take a drink out of the muddy dam.

I was reading a post on G C Myers’ Redtree Times WordPress site about plowing snow: Winter in America sounds arduous. I realized that for most Australians on the other hand, Summer is the testing time, when weather becomes overbearing and insists that human beings adapt to its exhausting regime. Unlike people in the northern hemisphere, for whom Summer provides a welcome relaxation of the Earth’s demanding discipline, in this place it is often a trial, a trial comprised of discomfort, thirst and the dangers of lethal snakes and destructive bushfires. Yet we have so many northern images in our heads of Summer as release that we are often extremely vulnerable to Summer’s torrid powers. We tend to hide from the realities that surround us, and kid ourselves that She’ll be right . . .

In The Great Work, Thomas Berry writes of a psychic energy that comes from an intimate alignment with place, an interior force that enables us to endure the difficulties of life and which grants us the necessary endurance. But such energy is only available when we commit ourselves willingly to the test of the seasons and accept the rigours of natural limits.

I think I have had trouble getting heat into my poems. Maybe it’s a common issue: in Summer, we can’t seem to remember the feel of Winter, and in Winter, it’s almost impossible to summon any sense of searing Summer. Something about weather seems to defeat even the best imaginations. But here are a couple of attempts . . .

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

Notes from Melting Point

Red ants pursue acid paths over scorched earth.

In stiff mechanisms of grass massed rabbit pellets form ball-bearings of dust.

The hot-air lungs of a smoker’s breeze spin-dry fairy-seeds.

Wren song chips through chainsaw bark; calm is scored by the grind of a grader’s gears.

Trees shift focus into the fibres of their roots, listening at the tips for the drip of a drop of sweat.

In gaunt green mistletoe, a jezebel butterfly makes do in two dimensions, the palette of its underwings artificially colouring the landscape.

At this hour, a mouthful of water shuts down the world.

The rumble of distant thunder is a loud speaker — is it a long dash in proceedings or the promise of cool change?

Pools of shadow lengthen as they swim out past late afternoon.

To the drone of a light plane, a dusk hare jumps fur joy.

 

Summer in Winter: Patton’s Split-second Seasoning

As a frost’s smoke sheath whitens my breath,
and with the air’s sting-numb chill gloving both arms
and narrowly icing the gaps between fingers,
a swift Summer tremor of sunsettled glare
burns across the blood for a spilt
second: warning morning heat
stilts early up out of the ground;
the impeccable sky, with perfect balance,
stands on my head; and whirlpools
of birdsound percolate through the porous dry-grass realm ―
feel it thicken into something singing
my more than sad half-sense of this world;
all my open, close fears.

Monster to Monster

loch ness monster 2

 

 

 

 

 

In memory of Robert Rines, scientist

Your quandary: to be wise
in the common sense, or to make
head and tail of the hump
Loch Ness let you glimpse.
As a scientist, you knew
precisely how to manage
ridicule: you put on
a brave face for the majority
who will never in their lives
have to try to believe
what their eyes tell them.
Green and grainy photographs
taken by a sonar-triggered camera
of a fin? of a flipper? of a fluke?
only added to your torment.
Echoes reminiscent of whale-song
clinched nothing in favour
of a definitive answer.
Your “obsession” — it stayed
loyal to the end — died
with you. Let those who prefer
the comfort of conformity
learn the lesson of your life:
beware, at any cost, the miracle
decent souls can’t bear.

A Few Favourite Mary Oliver Moments . . .

2018-09-20 Carrs Road Clouds 3

Where time sits with her slow spoon,
Where we becomes singular, and a quickening

From light-years away
Saves and maintains. (“Bone Poem”)

And should anyone be surprised

if sometimes, when the white moon rises,
women want to lash out
with a cutting edge? (“Strawberry Moon”)

. . . Yet under
reason burns a brighter fire, which the bones
have always preferred.
It is the story of endless good fortune.
It says to oblivion: not me! (“The Black Snake”)

They sing, too.
And not for any reason
you can’t imagine. (“Humpbacks”)

The blacksnake climbing
in the vines halts
his long ladder of muscle (“Rain in Ohio”)

In the book of the Sioux it is written:
they have gone away into the earth to hide.
Nothing will coax them out again
but the people dancing.
(“Ghosts”)

You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
and grinned. (“The Moths”)

The curtains opened and there was
an old man in a headdress of feather,
leather leggings and a vest made
from the skins of some animal. He danced

in a kind of surly rapture, and the trees
in the fields far away
began to mutter and suck up their long roots.
Slowly they advanced until they stood
pressed to the schoolhouse window. (“Two Kinds of Deliverance”)

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly,
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,

and vanished
into the world. (“One or Two Things”)

But the lilies
are slippery and wild ― they are
devoid of meaning, they are
simply doing,
from the deepest

spurs of their being,
what they are impelled to do
every summer.
And so, dear sorrow, are you. (“The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water”)

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real (“Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard”)

I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray. (“Five A.M. in the Pinewoods”)

If the world were only pain and logic, who would want it? (“Singapore”)

Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers
began. (“White Flowers”)

I don’t know
what death’s ultimate
purpose is, but I think
this: whoever dreams of holding his
life in his fist
year after year into the hundreds of years
has never considered the owl ― (“Lonely, White Fields”)

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things? (“The Sun”)