U.F.O.s


Vaguely you notice they do not square:
these flying mobile sources in your atmosphere
at emotion’s outermost alien-edge.

Enigmatic points of no return,
they fleet a second or two across distracted nerves,
never ever leaving memory.

You only know they’ve been,
not what they matter — Unidentified Feeling Objects
for something you won’t be yet

or for a thing crowded complacency —
like a colony of sea-birds on a jagged cliff —
perpetually in its chatter overlooks,

but where, normally, you cannot listen
their keener tuning in you half-divines
sub-audible fossil water’s undertones.

Micro-translation: Fu Lei on the Ideal Society (1962)


還有,在那麽美麗的自然環境中,人民也那麽天真可愛,就是不能適應二十世紀的生活。究竟是這些人不宜於過現在生活呢,還是現在生活不宜於他們?換句話説:人應當任情適性的過日子呢,還是要削足適履,遷就客觀現實?有一點可以肯定:就是人在世界上活了幾千年,還仍然沒法按照自己的本性去設計一個社會。世界大同看來永遠是個美麗的空想 . . .

巴爾扎克說過:「現在的政府,缺點是過分要人去適應社會,而不想叫社會去適應人。」這句話值得一切抱救世渡人的理想的人深思!

And another thing: in such a beautiful natural environment, human beings are also so innocent and so endearing — it’s just that they can’t adjust to life in the twentieth century. Now when all is said and done, is it because such people are unsuited to modern life, or is it because modern life is just not suitable for them? To put it another way, should people live out their days following their own bent [任情適性], or should they chop off their toes to fit their shoes, doing their best to accommodate themselves to objective reality? There’s one thing we can be sure of: human beings have lived on this Earth for thousands of years but have yet to design a society that is in accordance with their nature. A United World with everyone living together as one seems as if it will stay a beautiful but empty ideal forever . . .

Balzac once said: “The flaw in modern governments is that they go too far in wanting people to fit in with society, refusing to modify society to suit the needs of those who make it up”. All people who embrace the ideal of saving the world should give this remark some serious thought!

From Fu Lei’s Letters to My Family | 傅雷:《傅雷家書》

《新心界》:「藍天嘅溫馴朋友」

Photo by chris carroll on Pexels.com

The weather turns heavenly, and it with come thoughts of Heaven as 阿綠 Ah Luk, 陳之一 Chan Chi-yat, 孚翠 Fu-cheui and 阿奇Ah Kei continue their visit to Kadoorie Farm with a walk along the Butterfly Path up to Convent Garden. There, they enjoy a champagne picnic lunch, prepared by Ah Kei’s good friend, 凡傑 Fan Kit, and talk of orchids, seances and the very uncertain future of Hong Kong.

Soundtrack: “The sound of happy people following their own thoughts

陽光、青天、空氣、土壤、流水、樹葉、鳥叫、花朵、昆蟲——人間生活嘅各種煩惱根本冇辦法排斥自然界嘅偉大吸引力。喺阿奇嘅專家級指導之下,大家去參觀農場裏邊嘅各個地點,包括蘭花溫室、爬行動物花園、鸚鵡護理中心同埋騾房——其實係陳之一特別要求去睇吓騾仔,原因想必係因為佢份人好鍾意十九世紀法國詩人弗朗西斯 ● 雅姆嘅一首詩篇,題為《同騾一齊去樂園嘅祈禱》,澳洲男人覺得以下幾句寫得特別優秀:

藍天嘅溫馴朋友,嚟啦
好可憐嘅動物,睇你哋點樣用耳仔或者頭部
驅趕嗰啲平庸乏味嘅烏蠅、打擊、同埋蜜蜂 … …

(不過,至於呢首詩究竟係講緊邊一種動物,陳之一嘅記憶又一次發生咗紊亂:雅姆所寫嘅係驢,而唔係騾!不過,見到騾房入便嘅「住戶」,男人一直都唔為意自己嘅過錯。更何況,對於佢嚟講,天堂嘅概念同動物係息息相關嘅。)

其實,嗰日嘅夏天天氣好容易令到俗人諗起天堂,而喺四人開始向山區慢步嘅時候,呢種接近仙境嘅感覺就越嚟越濃烈。佢哋上山沿住嘅小路咁啱叫做「蝴蝶徑」,當然係阿奇特登揀選嘅,因為佢深知阿綠同曾經「食」過蝴蝶嘅陳之一有呢個共同興趣。奇怪嘅係,啱啱行上呢條小徑嗰陣,大家唔係睇到好多「小巧飛天」,只係見到一啲顔色素白、平平無奇嘅菜粉蝶,難免俾人一種「去飲茶食清粥」嘅沮喪感。但係俗語話「忍耐」,最終果然「成金」,路邊嘅花草上面突然出現一隻喺度棲息嘅翠藍眼蛺蝶!


「阿翠,呢隻蛺蝶個名同你一樣咁啱有個『翠』字喎!」阿綠溫和咁同阿女講吓笑。

不過,老實講,發現啱啱合埋翅膀嘅翠藍眼蛺蝶嗰陣,孚翠不禁感到幾分失望——翅膀腹面嘅淡褐色居然好單調,但係等到雙翅再張開,呢隻蝴蝶忽然展出一片藍天般嘅藍色,仲有一系列圓圓嘅紅色大眼斑;刹那間,孚翠心頭湧上另一種感覺,同原先嘅情緒恰好相反。

「嘩!原來蝴蝶嘅隊伍當中亦都有類似『吉基爾同海德』咁嘅成員,一半呢樣,一半嗰樣!」親眼見到豹貓嘅女人冇幾耐之後,好似棟篤笑演員咁識得掌握時機加多一句,引得大家哈哈大笑。

跟住之後,佢哋集體陷入咗一片比沉默更加寧怡嘅沈寂。同蝴蝶徑平行嘅一條山澗,隱約傳嚟佢特有嘅汩汩聲,喺下晝炎熱之下令到四人聽起嚟心裏好涼快。然後,四人都唔出聲,各自嘅意識流好似溪澗咁隨意流動,無限遐思,毫無目的咁諗嚟思去、浮想聯翩,幫人暫時擺脫使用語言無處不在嘅束縛。咁樣落嚟,行吓行吓,四人唔經唔覺就到達蝴蝶徑嘅盡頭,即係一個叫做「修女花園」嘅小型野餐區。一踏入園内,阿奇就同一個坐緊喺度嘅人打招呼,跟住就嚟介紹吓佢,令到大家第一次認識到紐西蘭動物專家嘅好朋友,凡傑,係從事中學地理、文學嘅教學工作。凡傑身邊放住一個大嗮士嘅柳條大籃,等到大家喺圍繞石枱嘅磨菇形石櫈揾到位置嗰陣,先至由大籃攞出一樽香檳同埋五隻玻璃香檳杯。阿奇用力擰開瓶塞,頓時爆發咗一聲響亮嘅「啪」聲,半秒鐘就破壞咗修女花園嘅肅靜。斟酒之後,五人就為嘉道理農場飲一杯,與之同時,孚翠暗自為佢遇到嘅豹貓默默地嘴喐喐咁祈禱幾句,祝願佢今後嘅日子可以過得安然無恙。凡傑做嘢一絲不苟:除咗美酒之外,佢亦都為呢次野餐準備好一個甜品同埋一大盤生果(其中當然包括奇異果,令到大家不禁聯想到主人阿奇嘅故鄉!)。依照凡傑嘅詳細解釋,甜品叫做 Smash,係佢自己整嘅,食材真係好簡單,淨係得草莓、瑪琳糖同埋忌廉。雖然做法比較簡單,但係味道好好,配埋香檳一齊食非常之對味。

陳之一情不自禁向大家問:「顧名思義,噉喺呢度飲酒取樂係咪對原先進行靈修嘅修女不敬?」

孚翠一聽到佢咁講就摵起兩條眉,以為成日抛書包、着馬騮衣嘅陳之一係蓄意掃人興嘅。不過,阿奇連忙搖搖頭,一邊大啖吞下香檳,一邊向澳洲潑冷水者講解:「阿一,你放心啦 . . . 聽講之前呢度 . . . 呢度有好多『修女蘭花』 . . . 係一種植物嘅名嚟㗎 . . . 同女人冇關係!」講完之後,佢就伸手攞酒樽,向自己嘅杯再倒多啲香檳。

話音一落,阿綠好似被呢種提問方式「感染」到,隨後就向凡傑問:「Smash 呢個名令我諗返起過年請杯仙嘅經歷呀,當我哋打聽香港未來嘅時候,玻璃杯就跳咗去半空中,仲即刻打爛咗 . . . 點解你會用 Smash 嚟做甜品名嘅呢?」

熱愛科學嘅凡傑對請杯仙呢回事感到困惑不解,但係佢仍然十分禮貌咁出盡力回答:「或者係因為瑪琳糖整出嚟係一大片嘅,然後就要將佢打成碎片,呢個動作就係類似 smash 咁。又或者呢個名同英文動詞 mash 有關:將忌廉、士多啤梨同瑪琳糖溝埋一齊,味道咪更加好囉!」

當時孚翠仲未離開瑞典,根本冇機會參與嗰次過年之後嘅晚宴,所以佢對請杯仙嘅事特別有興趣。去到呢個時候,佢心思思懇求阿媽講多啲佢知呢件事嘅細節。

「哎吔!嗰陣時我想問吓香港嘅前途到底係咪會有好結果,真係估唔到酒杯會不斷咁打圈,打吓打吓,令到大家越嚟越難忍,收尾居然喺枱邊起飛,打爛成碎片。本來我對香港嘅態度都幾樂觀,近排嘅示威遊行好似係證明緊我哋盼望咗好耐嘅變化終於能夠實現,但係調返轉嚟講,個杯嘅破壞又可能係暗示啱啱相反嘅一種結局會出現嘅 . . . 」 阿綠心情好激動話,好似再度驗緊現請杯仙嗰晚嘅難忘經歷。

「其實」陳之一迫不及待咁加把口:「我一早想話俾你知,關於請杯仙嗰件事,你當晚提問嘅方法有啲唔啱,向佢問用『係、否』回答嘅問題先得㗎,所以個杯最終冇得揀只好『走投無路』自滅。換句話講啦,打爛咗嘅杯唔代表香港嘅未來一定要係災難性嘅。呢個純粹係烏鴉口嘅啫。」

呢番說話帶嚟咗唔少安慰俾阿綠;佢臉上露出一種輕鬆啲嘅表情,但係孚翠聽到男人呢個假專家般嘅口吻,就覺得篤眼篤鼻,於是佢兩條眉又一次摵起到最高嘅位置。咁啱,當其時修女花園上空中出現咗一隻黑白色嘅蝴蝶,係一隻好受香港觀蝶者歡迎嘅芒蛺蝶,悠悠閒閒咁向住觀音山略圓嘅頂峰飄然而去。

Learning Cantonese: Liu Wai-tong’s Three Answers to Poetry


In six sweet minutes, the Hong Kong poet 廖偉棠 Liu Wai-tong talks poetry, giving you the many benefits of his long years as a writer. One of my favourite moments comes when he asks

我哋(嘅)語言點樣從一個美麗嘅事物 | 慢慢變成咗我哋日常中我哋只係將佢作為種工具嚟使用呢?

which means, roughly, “Why has our language gone from being such a beautiful thing to a mere tool we make use of in our daily lives?” Perhaps that sentence alone will be enough to start you thinking along poetic lines . . .

From the Cantonese perspective, there is plenty of vocabulary to take away from Liu’s video. Items include 覺悟 gok3 ngh6 = ① come to realize ② consciousness; 歸結 gwāi1 git3 = to sum up; to put in a nutshell; 獨一無二 duhk6 yāt1 mòuh4 yih6 = unique; unparalleled; unmatched; 瘋狂 fūng1 kòhng4 = ① insane ② frenzied; unbridled; 打磨 dáa2 mòh4 = to polish; to burnish; to shine; 素材 sou3 chòih4 = source material (of literature & art); 外星人 ngoih6 sīng1 yàhn4 = a person from outer space; an extra-terrestrial being; an alien; and 習以為常 jaahp6 yíh5 wàih4 sèuhng4 = be used to sth.; be accustomed to sth.

You can watch the video here (the subtitles are, for a nice change, in Cantonese!). For my transcription, notes and very unpoetical English translation, please see below.


Caption: 廖偉 | 詩人說詩

大家好,我係廖偉堂 | 好高興今日可以喺呢度 | 同大家分享我對詩嘅一啲覺悟 | 其實,主要想同大家解答 | 三個經常見到嘅關於詩嘅問題

Caption: 一篇好的詩歌有哪些元素?

第一個呢,就係一首好詩有啲咩要素?| 其實呢個問題嘅答案非常之多 | 噉對於我嚟講呢,可以歸結成三個要素:| 先驗嘅、經驗嘅,同埋超驗嘅 | 聽起上嚟好似係哲學問題 | 其實,對於詩人嚟講 | 先驗指向嘅係佢嘅情感 | 因為詩人嘅情感呢 | 係同成個人類嘅 | 歷史發展以嚟嘅各種情感係交織埋一齊嘅 | 我哋寫詩呢 | 就係要重視、珍惜 | 同埋挖掘自己嘅情感嘅來源

● 覺悟 gok3 ngh6 = ① come to realize ② consciousness | ● 解答 gáai2 daap3 = to answer | ● 要素 yiu3 sou3 = essential factor; key element | ● 歸結 gwāi1 git3 = to sum up; to put in a nutshell | ● 先驗 sīn1 yihm6 = a priori | ● 超驗 chīu1 yihm6 = transcendental | ● 指向 jí2 heung3 = (?) to point at; to refer to | ● 交織 gāau1 jīk1 = to intertwine; to interweave; to mingle | ● 挖掘 waat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth

Caption: Liu Wai-tong | Poets on Poetry

Hello, everyone. I am Liu Wai-tong. I am very happy to be able to share with you here today some of the things I have come to realize [覺悟] about poetry. Actually, what I mainly wish to give you answers to are three common questions about poetry.

Caption: What are the elements of a good poem?

The first question is about what the key elements of a poem are. Actually, there are many answers to this question. As far as I am concerned, it can be summed up by three key elements: that which is prior to experience, experience [itself] and that which transcends experience. This makes it sound like a philosophical issue, but actually, for a poet, that which precedes experience refers to feelings. Because the feelings of a poet are interwoven with the many different feelings of the whole of humanity in its development through history, when we write poetry, we are valuing, treasuring and excavating the sources of our own feeling.

【1:00】通過咁呢種挖掘呢 | 可以同我哋嘅讀者 | 同我哋嘅同行,同其他藝術家 | 達成一種共情 | 至於經驗呢,非常之重要 | 我哋人生在世 | 可能經過咗十幾年、幾十年嘅歲月 | 我哋遭遇過好多好多獨一無二嘅也好 | 或者係同成個城市 | 成個時代其他人一齊經歷嘅事情又好 | 噉我哋就要從理性嘅角度去 | 喺入面呢,打撈出一啲呢,屬於我哋人類共同嘅智慧 | 呢種智慧可以非常之小 | 亦都可以非常之大 | 但係呢,一定會令我哋嘅讀者 | 包括我哋自己 | 去睇翻呢首詩嘅時候 | 發現到呢,一啲呢,點樣進行我哋未來 | 我哋面對我哋嘅命運嘅,一啲「想像」喺入面

● 共情 guhng6 chìhng4 = (?) literally, “common/shared feeing” | ● 遭遇 jōu1 yuh6 = to meet with; to encounter | ● 獨一無二 duhk6 yāt1 mòuh4 yih6 = unique; unparalleled; unmatched | ● 打撈 dáa2 làauh4 = to salvage; to dredge

By means of this excavation, we can attain to a kind of collective emotion [共情] with our readers, with other poets [同行] and with artists [working in different media]. With regard to experience, this is extremely important. Living here in this world, we might have spent a dozen or so years — or several decades — meeting with both many, many unique [experiences of our own] as well as feelings common to other people in [this] city as a whole, or in this period of time. What we have to do is — from the perspective of reason — to salvage something belonging to our collective wisdom from [all this]. This wisdom can be something extremely minor, or it can be something extremely major, but it has to be able to make our readers — including ourselves — discover when reading the poem something of the “imagination” in it, about how to conduct our future [lives] [or] how to face our destinies.

【2:00】第三點超驗呢,係指詩嘅語言 | 詩嘅語言我哋會覺得,啊,好似好瘋狂 | 或者係好難以理喻喎 | 其實,詩嘅語言呢,就同一個藝術品嘅打造一樣 | 佢係通過對我哋麻木咗嘅、功利性嘅 | 工具化嘅日常語言嘅打磨、變形 | 重新組合、構造 | 嚟帶領我哋呢,發現語言嘅秘密 | 就係我哋(嘅)語言點樣從一個美麗嘅事物 | 慢慢變成咗我哋日常中我哋只係將佢作為種工具嚟使用呢?| 噉當我哋發現到呢個秘密呢 | 我哋就可以嘗試去創造出 | 屬於自己嘅獨特嘅詩歌語言 | 嚟帶領我哋嘅讀者或者我哋自己 | 去重新認識呢個世界 | 呢首就會係一首非常之好嘅詩喇 | 如果做到呢 *nei 三種元素

● 瘋狂 fūng1 kòhng4 = ① insane ② frenzied; unbridled | ● 理喻 léih5 yuh6 = to reason with cf. 不可理喻 bāt1 hó2 léih5 yuh6 = be impervious to reason; won’t listen to reason | ● 打造 dáa2 jouh6 = to make | ● 功利 gūng1 leih6 = utility; material gin | ● 打磨 dáa2 mòh4 = to polish; to burnish; to shine | ● 變形 bin3 yìhng4 = be out of shape; become deformed | ● 組合 jóu2 hahp6 = to make up; to compose; to constitute | ● 構造 kau3 jouh6 = a structure; a construction | ● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to attempt; to try

[My] third point about that which transcends experience refers to the language of the poem. We all tend to think that the language of poetry is a bit like madness [瘋狂] or something that doesn’t listen to reason. Actually, the language of poetry is just like the making of a work of visual art. By polishing, deforming, reconstituting and structuring everyday language — a language that has become numb, utilitarian, instrumental — [we can let] it lead us to a discovery of the secret of language. Why has our language gone from being such a beautiful thing to a mere tool we make use of in our daily lives? When we have discovered this secret, we can try to create a unique poetic language belonging to us [alone], one that leads our readers — or we ourselves — to come to know the world in a new way. A poem that achieves this third element is an extremely good poem.


【3:00】Caption: 我可以從哪裏去收集寫作的材料?

第二點,我哋就經常會好困惑嘅 | 我哋點樣去攞我哋嘅寫作嘅素材呢?| 我哋生活喺呢 *nei 個非常之忙碌 | 亦都好似好無詩意嘅大都市入便 | 我哋成日都會慨嘆 | 我哋係咪要「為賦新詩強說愁」呢?| 其實根本唔係嘅 | 因為詩意無所不在 | 我哋需要嘅只不過係喺 | 呢 *nei 個城市或者呢 *nei 個當代生活中 | 去搵出可以同古代所謂嘅詩意 | 平等嘅一啲詩嘅素材 | 點樣搵出呢?| 就係我哋永遠要保持一種新奇 | 我哋經常要想像自己係一個 . . . | 比如話 | 「我係個剛剛嚟到地球 *gau(嘅)外星人」 | 比如話:「我係個未來嘅考古學家」 | 咁樣,喺呢 *nei 個我哋已經習以為常嘅生活入便 | 我哋就會覺得 | 咦,呢樣嘢 . . .

● 困惑 kwan3 waahk6 = perplexed; puzzled | ● 素材 sou3 chòih4 = source material (of literature & art) | ● 慨嘆 koi3 taan3 = to sigh with regret | ● 無所不在 mòuh4 só2 bāt1 joih6 = omnipresent; ubiquitous | ● 外星人 ngoih6 sīng1 yàhn4 = a person from outer space; an extra-terrestrial being; an alien | ● 考古學家 háau2 gú2 hohk6 gāa1 = archaeologist | ● 習以為常 jaahp6 yíh5 wàih4 sèuhng4 = be used to sth.; be accustomed to sth.

Caption: Where can we find the material for writing poetry?

About this second point, we feel constantly feel perplexed. How do we go about gathering the material with which to write our poems? We live in this extremely busy and seemingly unpoetic metropolis and we spend our days sighing with regret and wondering whether we should (as the poet 辛棄疾 Xin Qiji once wrote) “for to compose new verses”, feign our “sorrow and woe”. It is not really like this at all. Poetic meaning is everywhere to be found. All we need do is to find material in this city or in this contemporary life equivalent to what was called “poetic meaning” in bygone times. How do we find such material? We must forever maintain our curiosity. And we must be always imagining ourselves to be . . . for instance “I am a person from another planet who has just arrived on Earth” or “I am an archaeologist from the future”. In this way, in the life that we have already grown accustomed to, we will think: “Hey, this . . .

【4:00】 . . . 又好特別,嗰樣嘢又好特別 | 同時呢,我哋會保持非常之 open(開放)嘅心 | 我哋會讓呢個世界上好多元素呢,進入我哋度 | 包括現實嘅元素,情感嘅元素 | 噉佢哋呢,都會同我嘅心呢,產生一種共鳴 | 或者可以講係一種化學反應 | 因為我非常之 、、敏感 | 我保持到自己嘅敏感 | 我將呢 *nei 種反應再用語言調度出嚟 | 噉其實就係詩喇

Caption: 我可以怎樣讓自己的寫作進步?

最後一點呢,就係我哋都好想知道嘅 | 我哋點樣令我哋寫作進步 | 其實,最基本最基本就係 | 多讀多寫,細讀細寫 | 不斷咁樣磨練自己嘅手藝 | 就好似個工藝人咁樣 | 佢不斷磨練自己嘅手藝 | 又不斷去睇人哋 | 其他我嘅同行做緊啲乜嘢 | 有啲乜嘢我可以做得更好? | 有啲乜嘢係人哋冇做,我要做嘅?

● 共鳴 guhng6 mìhng4 = ① to resonate ② to respond sympathetically | ● 化學反應 faa3 hohk6 fáan2 ying3 = a chemical reaction | ● 調度 diuh6 douh6 = to dispatch | ● 磨練 mòh4 lihn6 = to practise hard; self-discipline | 手藝 sáu2 ngaih6 = craftmanship | ● 工藝人 gūng1 ngaih6 yàhn4 = craftsman

. . . is something special, and that is something special, too. At the same time, we will be extremely open-minded. We will allow many of the elements of this world to enter inside us, including elements of reality and emotional elements. Now these things can strike a chord with us or [create] what we could call a chemical reaction. Because I am extremely sensitive, I maintain this sensitivity of mine and dispatch [調度] this kind of reaction by means of language. This actually is poetry.

Caption: What can we do to improve our writing?

My final point is about something we would all like to know: how to go about improving our writing. The most fundamental thing of all is to read and write widely as well as to read and write attentively, constantly polishing our craft, just like any craftsperson, who constantly works hard at their discipline [手藝]. What things that our fellow poets are doing could we try to do better? What things can we do that others aren’t doing [yet]?

【5:00】有啲乜嘢我覺得人哋做可能仲有其他嘅選擇喎 | 呢 *nei 啲都係令我哋嘅詩呢,尋找突破嘅一個方式 | 噉當然呢,喺呢 *nei 種尋找嘅過程之中呢 | 我哋不斷咁樣去打磨自己(嘅)詩歌藝術 | 啊,美國詩人龐德呢,講過一句話,好有趣嘅,佢話: | 「如果你對詩嘅熟悉、你對詩藝嘅練習 | 比唔上一個中學嘅音樂老師對音樂嘅認識 | 你應該感到慚愧」| 噉我哋應該呢,點樣呢?| 我哋應該將自己作為一個 | 就算我哋真正喺現實生活中我哋 | 可能有其他嘅職業 | 有其他嘅生活 | 但係當我哋寫作嘅時候 | 我哋就知道我哋係進行緊呢 *nei 個專業嘅 | 一個專業嘅人 | 我哋就去用一種專業嘅眼光嚟對待自己嘅創作 | 咁樣你先係會有進步 | 要以比自己高嘅詩嚟要求自己

● 要求 yīu1 kàuh4 = a demand; a requirement

Note: Pound actually said: “Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music.”

In the things people do, what other options do I think there might be? All these things are ways to give our poetry the chance to find a break-through. Of course, throughout this process of searching, we must constantly work on our own poetic art. Ezra Pound once said something that was very interesting: “If your knowledge of poetry and your practice of the poetic art are inferior to a high-school music teacher’s knowledge of music, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” How should we go about this? We should be bear in mind that, when we are writing poetry, we are exercising a profession, even if — in our real lives — we have other professions and other [forms of] living. We should view our creativity with a professional regard. Only then we can make progress, making demands on ourselves with the help of poems that [fly] higher than our own.

【6:00】「我幾時可以追得上佢?」| 咁樣就係一個不斷進步嘅過程 | 多謝大家!

● 追得上 jēui1 dāk1 seuhng6 = to catch up to

“When can we reach the same level as [such poems]?” Such is the process of a constant improvement. Thank you!

Learning Cantonese: Ho Ngok, Champion Stone-skimmer


Here’s a wonderful new addition to your Cantonese vocabulary: 片石仔 pín2 sehk6 jái2, which means “to skim stones”. Actually, if you watch to the end, you will realize that there is a difference between “stone skimming” and “stone skipping”, something that I have been blissfully ignorant of my entire life . . .

The speaker 何岳 Ho Ngok laughs at himself for taking stone-skimming so seriously, but I guess there is an abiding fascination with the simple magic of making a stone glide across water without (immediately) sinking. Hence the fascination with the angle at which the stone hits the water, and the way it spins over liquid surfaces. And, as Ah Ngok makes clear, even the selection of the stones used in the sport goes a long way to determining success.

Ah Ngok skims his Cantonese with equal facility, his passion for the subject leading him to some rather colourful turns of phrase, including 屎窟痕 sí2 fāt1 hàhn4 (literally, “[with] an “itchy arsehole”), which means something like “not able to sit still”! Listen out too for 達人 daaht6 yàhn4 = expert; 心得 sām1 dāk1 = what one has learned from work, study, etc.; 講究 góng2 gau3 = be particular about; pay attention to (perhaps even “be fussy about”); 有朝一日 yáuh5 jīu1 yāt1 yaht6 = one day; some day (indicating a hope for the future); 消耗 sīu1 hou3 = to complete; to use up; to deplete; to expend; and 得心應手 dāk1 sām1 ying3 sáu2 = for one’s hands to work in perfect coordination with what one wishes to do. Oh, and the 岳 ngohk6 in the speaker’s name means “high mountain” and is sometimes written as 嶽.

You can watch the video here (it has very partial subtitles in Chinese only). My transcription, vocabulary notes and translation follow below.


Caption: 片石仔 | 奧義非一般 | 港達人盼能辦本土比賽

旁白:片石仔可能每個人都玩過 | 但係原來世界上有好多高手都會認真練習同埋參加比賽 | 香港就有一位達人曾經到日本參加比賽 | 亦都會常常喺唔同嘅節目出現 | 分享片石仔心得

Caption: 片石達人 | 阿岳

何岳:我叫阿岳啦 | 噉我就其實係,呃,19年4月就有一次我做嘢嘅時候,噉我影結婚相嘅 | 噉我去到泥涌嘅海邊嗰度呢,噉我同我老闆呢,見到啲石仔好得意,咁呃 | 啊抌落海,咁樣樣 | 其實嗰陣時都係片石仔囉 | 啫係,唔係齋抌,咁樣囉,試吓片咁 | 一片完之後呢,就屎忽痕呢,就諗住睇吓有冇啲,呃,世界上有冇啲其他人玩得好勁呀咁 | 跟住就上YouTube搵囉

● 奧義 ou3 yih6 = roughly, “inner meaning” | ● 高手 gōu1 sáu2 = past master; master-hand; ace | ● 達人 daaht6 yàhn4 = expert [Sheik = 專家,佼佼者,精通於某樣事物的人 = expert; someone who is above the average or outstanding; a person with a good command of something] | ● 心得 sām1 dāk1 = what one has learned from work, study, etc. | ● 抌 dám = ① to beat (with fist); to bang; to pound ② to smash; to shatter; to stamp (a chop) ③ to throw; to discard; to abandon | ● 屎窟痕 sí2 fāt1 hàhn4 = not able to sit still (lit. “itchy arsehole”)

Note: 齋 jāai1 is frequently used in Cantonese with verbs to indicate that the action is done in a plain or unadorned manner. The last time we came across it was in the Kongstories video on the musician Grace Yu: 但係有幾多個學上唔係浄係齋彈冇靈魂 | 而係尋找到屬於佢獨特嘅聲音同埋生命力嘅呢?= “But how many of these students are looking for a voice that belongs to them alone and a vitality, rather than merely going through the motions devoid of soul”. Here, 齋 jāai1 is added to 彈 tàahn4 (to play a stringed musical instrument) to suggest a superficial playing or a going through the motions. I’ve also heard 齋聽 jāai1 tēng1 = “to listen (to a conversation) without contributing to it in any way”.

Caption: Skipping Stones | The Inner Complexities [奧義] Are Beyond the Average | A Hong Kong Adept Hopes To Be Able To Organize Local Competitions

Voice-over: Probably everyone has had a go at skipping stones. It turns out that there are many elite performers [高手] who practice conscientiously and take part in competitions. Hong Kong has one outstanding exponent [達人] who has competed in Japan and who often pops up on various programs sharing what he has learnt about skimming stones.

Caption: An Outstanding Exponent of Stone-skimming | Ah Ngok

Ho Ngok: My name is Ho Ngok. In April 2019, in the course of my work (I work as a wedding photographer), I went down to the sea at Nai Chung. Both my boss and I noticed some interesting-looking stones there so we [started] throwing them into the sea. Actually, at that time, we were skimming stones. We weren’t just chucking them into the water [齋抌] but trying to make them skip. After this one [time] of skipping stones, I couldn’t sit still and wanted to see whether there were people in other parts of the world who could really do this well. And so I looked on YouTube.

【1:00】旁白:何岳每星期大約會花一整日嘅時間去練習 | 由選取地理環境、石頭、以及一整套嘅動作都十分講究

何岳:我可能我就係因為覺得佢唔係無聊事所以先認真做㗎 | 如果係無聊事我真係會HEA 做,哈哈 | 因為我見到佢,呃,有得練嘅地方囉 | 啫,我見到佢有得練習同埋有得進步嘅地方 | 尤其是你睇完外國嗰啲人呢 | 你會 . . . 你好有興趣知道佢點樣做到嘅咁樣樣囉

Caption: 釐定 | 成功

旁白:噉又點樣去釐定片石仔嘅成功?| 原來姿勢並唔係準則之一

何岳:所以片石仔你見佢哋好少討論姿勢嘅 | 因為個個人姿勢唔同你冇得討論 | 噉所以所謂嘅成功呢 | 反而係你粒石嗰個入水嘅角度 | 啫係,呢個就係,呃,最,呃,最 critical 要講嗰樣嘢,最關鍵嘅 | 因為你粒石如果呢,落水嘅時候唔靚個角度 | 我當啦,你旋轉好勁都好 | 你個水面喺度嘅時候呢 | 如果你落水嘅時候過於平坦呀

● 一整日 yāt1 jíng2 yaht6 = one whole day | ● 講究 góng2 gau3 = be particular about; pay attention to (perhaps even “be fussy about”) | ● 無聊 mòuh4 lìuh4 = ① bored ② senseless; silly; stupid | ● 釐定 lèih4 dihng6 = (?) to rectify; to formulate (rules, etc.) | ● 準則 jéun2 jāk1 = a norm; standard; criterion

Voice-over: Every week, Ho Ngok spends roughly one whole day on practising. He is very particular about everything, from choosing the right geographical location [地理環境], to the stones [he uses] and all the movements [involved].

Ho Ngok: Probably I am very conscientious about [skimming stones] because I don’t think of it as being a frivolous activity. If it were frivolous, then I would go about it in a very laid-back way. This reason is that I could see where there was room to practise, room to practise and room to make improvements. Especially when you have watched people overseas — then you . . . you will interested to figure out how they manage to do it.

Caption: Formulating Rules for Success

Voice-over: How do you go about formulating the rules [釐定] for success in stone skipping? As it turns out, the posture [you use to throw the stone] is not one of the criteria.

Ho Ngok: There’s not much discussion at all about posture in stone-skimming. There’s nothing to say, because everyone’s posture is different. For that reason, when it comes to so-called “success”, it is the angle at which your stone hits [入] the water [which matters]. That is, it is the most critical thing that needs to be talked about. If the angle at which the stone hits the water is not good [唔靚], [even if] your stone is rotating wonderfully well [好勁], if it is too flat when it touches the water . . .

【2:00】啫係,你唔得,有少少斜嘅角度 | 通常斜呢, 我哋都係以10度至20度做為標準,咁樣樣喇 | 噉你咁樣落水呢,佢先可以前進到 | 如果你太平嘅話呢,佢會頭嗰兩下就已經沉咗落水

旁白:何岳有提到,片石仔主要會以距離或彈跳次數計分

Caption: 距離或彈跳

佢自己就比較鍾情距離賽 | 因為彈跳嘅話容易有人手失誤 | 佢曾經到日本比賽 | 認為日本比香港更加普及 | 會有全國性嘅比賽 | 希望疫情之後可以到唔同國家吸取更多經驗 | 有朝一日喺香港舉辦比賽 | 但係提到片石仔係難以做到全民參與嘅

何岳:啫,我提醒自己兼提醒人 | 其實呢,首先呢,片石仔唔係一種 . . . 而家你即時話參與,就 . . . 啫 . . . 全 . . . 全民參與呢 | 就呢樣嘢就可以興起一種運動嚟嘅 | 因為佢本身係好受環境因素影響 | 呃,唔同運動界別嘅人嚟 join 嚟玩

● 以 . . . 計分 yíh5 . . . gai3 fān1 = roughly, “to calculate points according to” | ● 彈跳次數 daahn6 tiu3 chi3 sou3 = the number of skips | ● 失誤 sāt1 ngh6 = a fault; muff | ● 吸取 kāp1 chéui2 = to absorb; to draw | ● 有朝一日 yáuh5 jīu1 yāt1 yaht6 = one day; some day (indicating a hope for the future)

. . . then you are not doing it right. [The stone] has to be inclined at a bit of an angle. Usually, the standard for the angle of inclination is between 10 and 20 degrees. It is only when you [throw the stone] onto the water like this that it is able to more advance. If [your angle] is too flat, it will skip a couple of times and then sink.

Voice-over: Ho Ngok also mentioned [the fact] that scoring for stone-skimming is based either on distance or on the number of skips.

Caption: Distance or Skips

He himself prefers distance competitions. The reason is that it is easy to make a mistake if you try to make the stone skip (rather than skim along the surface) [有人手失誤]. He has been to Japan to compete, and thinks that [the sport] is more widespread in Japan than in Hong Kong, [since] there are competitions there involving people from all over the nation. When the covid pandemic is over, he hopes to visit various different countries to get more experience and to organize [舉辦] a competition in Hong Kong. However, [on this subject] he mentioned that it is difficult to get everyone involved.

Ho Ngok: I am saying this to remind myself as well as others. Actually, first of all, stone-skimming is not something that you can immediately join in. It’s is not something for everyone (?). It can [not?] be made into a sport, because the environment has a big influence on it. People involved in other sports come and join in.

【3:00】噉佢為咗興趣嚟玩係可以 | 因為每一次佢都會睇到我哋執,甚至佢會參與我哋執咁樣樣咁囉 | 但係如果你話一大棚人咁樣湧過嚟玩呢 | 其實就會有個問題就係佢哋唔了解呢個生態環境嘅 | 佢 . . . 甚至佢哋可能,呃,抌咗好多其他冇篩選過嘅石頭落水 | 噉就會真係做到過分消耗喇 ,咁樣樣囉

旁白:佢提到唔同浪潮下 | 所需要嘅石頭唔同 | 但係主要都會以扁身嘅石頭為佳 | 或者我哋下次玩片石仔嘅時候 | 可以先上網查好資料 | 自然可以更加得心應手

● 棚 pàahng4 = usu. “shed; shack; hut” | ● 湧 yúng2 = to gush; to surge | ● 篩選 sāi1 syún2 = to screen | ● 消耗 sīu1 hou3 = to complete; to use up; to deplete; to expend | ● 扁身 bín2 sān1 = (?) flat[-bodied] | ● 浪潮 lohng6 chìuh4 = wave, tide, trend | ● 得心應手 dāk1 sām1 ying3 sáu2 = for one’s hands to work in perfect coordination with what one wishes to do

Note: The word 身 sān1 = “body” is sometimes added after adjectives. We came across this in Alfred Chan’s video on fried food, in which both 乾身 gōn1 sān1 = “dry” (?) and 厚身 háuh5 sān1 = “thick” (?) are used. Here, the reporter makes use of 扁身 bín2 sān1 = “flat[-bodied]”. This use of 身 sān1 only seems to occur in colloquial, spoken Cantonese.

Ho Ngok: They can come and skim stones for interest’s sake, that’s fine. Because every time they watch us picking up [stones], they might even join in this with us. But if you talk about a whole bunch of people coming down in droves [湧] to skim stones, the problem is that they don’t understand the natural environment. They might even throw heaps of other kinds of stones [into the water], stones that haven’t been [properly] selected and this can really do a lot of damage.


Voice-over: He said that you need different stones for different [kinds of] tides [浪潮], but the main thing is that flat[-bodied] stones are best. When next we do some stone-skimming, we should go on-line and have a good look at the information there [so that] as a matter of course [our stone-skipping skills] will improve.

Heidi (Registered Grief Counsellor)


Loving so close to dying,
she cannot help but look everywhere at us doubly,
distinctly in two ways —
as creatures who must come to their own mode of life
actively
just as best as they can;
and with something else
indescribably ultraviolet to language,
drenched in the torrent
of so much unbearably poignant —
finite — human being.
Not for a second could she make light of death, ever
and yet what is it we sense
in her gaze,
in her voice
in the tones of her lucid grace
if not some fundamental GRAVITY
bedazzling the mind’s eye?

Learning Cantonese: Zen, Nature, Art


Buddhist monks and nuns play an active role in Hong Kong society and some of them, such as the subject of this video, are frequently seen on YouTube. 常霖法師 The Venerable Chang Lin (the Mandarin pronunciation is conventionally used; in Cantonese, it becomes Sèuhng4 Làhm4 Faat3 Sī1) has been very active in recent times, partly on account of his having been a very successful photographer in Hong Kong before becoming a Buddhist monk, a process referred to as 出家 chēut gāa in Cantonese, which literally means to “go out of the family”. In this piece, he provides a very simple introduction to zen as 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1, a unity of body and mind, and contrasts it with our usual state of 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6, that is “physically present but otherwise absent”. He then goes on to relate zen to his practice as a photographer.

The video already has English subtitles, so you can go ahead and watch the video here. If you’re interested in the Cantonese details, please take a look at my transcription, notes and more literal translation below. Some of the vocabulary worth taking on board includes 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home”; 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience; 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal; 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley; 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph; and 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law.

I once heard a radio interview with another prominent monk, 衍空法師 the Venerable Yan Kong. Although he had a successful career and a happy marriage, his interest in Buddhism eventually led him to make the decision to 出家 chēut gāa, and finally he had to break the news to his wife. In an extraordinary twist, his wife announced in response that she would become a Buddhist nun, joining him in the spiritual realm, even as they left one another in the secular world . . .


常霖法師:人之所以有好多煩惱呀,有好多問題出現呢 | 其實就係失咗平衡 | 最容易失平衡嘅原因呢 | 就係因為人在心不在 | 如果我哋身心合一嘅話呢 |就會好自在 | 自在呢,就係開心嘅時候自在 | 噉於是呢,你就唔會刻意去不斷追求開心㗎 | 而唔開心嘅時候亦都自在 | 噉咪即係話冇乜唔開心囉

「禪」呢一個字呢,講三日三夜你都講唔完嘅 | 禪係一種體驗,你一定要體驗過你先至真係去了解 | 用一個比較簡單啲嘅形容詞呢 | 就係話喺適當嘅時候做適當嘅事 | 亦都係話,係喺嗰個當下 | 噉所以呢 . . .

● 平衡 pìhng4 hàhng4 = balance; equilibrium | ● 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6 = roughly, “physically present but mentally absent” | ● 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1 = roughly, “unity of body & mind” | ● 刻意 hāk1 yi3 = often “painstakingly” but also “deliberately; on purpose” | ● 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home” (lit. “three days & three nights”) | ● 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience | ● 適當 sīk1 dong3 = suitable; proper; appropriate

The Venerable Changlin: The reason why people tend to have so much trouble and why so many problems crop up is actually because they have lost their balance. What causes people to lose their balance most easily is because their mind wanders off [人在心不在]. If our minds and our bodies work as one, then we feel free and easy, comfortable [自在]. You feel free and at ease when you are happy, and so you don’t have to go out of your way so much to seek happiness; when you are unhappy, you can also be at ease, which means that you won’t feel much in the way of unhappiness.

You could talk about the word “zen” until the cows come home. Zen is a personal experience: you really have to experience it yourself before you can really understand it. A simple description of zen goes like this: doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. You could also put it like this: being in the moment. And so for this reason . . .

【1:00】 . . . 呢個就同大自然就係完全一樣嘅 | 譬如話,嗰樖樹,佢如果係有太陽曬嘅時候,佢唔會話 | 覺得好慘呀,嘩,好曬、好熱呀咁 | 落雨嘅時候,哎吔!做咩成日落雨呀咁?| 佢完全冇呢樣嘢 | 佢當下係咁就係咁

大自然係有一種療癒嘅能力嘅 | 如果我哋平時喺市區裏邊覺得好繁忙呀、好多嘢影響呀 | 其實我好鼓勵大家去大自然嗰度行一行 | 你會比較容易啲釋放自己 | 比較容易做得到心在又自在嘅

我比較鍾意呢,就係影一啲歲月嘅痕跡呀 | 有啲斑駁呀、有啲污跡呀 | 噉我 . . . 我好多時我會睇到呢,佢唔係污跡 | 我會睇到係藝術品,好似 . . . 好似一幅畫咁 | 不過呢個畫家係大自然 | 我喺影相嘅時候呢 | 個腦裏便係 . . .

● 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal | ● 繁忙 fàahn4 mòhng4 = busy | ● 鼓勵 gú2 laih6 = to encourage to urge | ● 釋放 sīk1 fong3 = to release; to set free | ● 歲月 seui3 yuht6 = years | ● 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley | ● 畫家 wáa6*2 gāa1 = painter; artist

. . . it is the same thing as being completely the same as nature. For example, if the sun happens to be shining warmly, that tree [over there] won’t say “I think this is awful! Gosh, it’s so sunny and hot!” or when it rains “Oh no! Why is it always raining?” It wouldn’t do anything like that. It is whatever it is in the moment.

Nature has the capacity to heal. If we generally feel ourselves to be busy in the city, affected by many different things, then I encourage you to go out into nature and take a walk. There you can find release for yourself comparatively easily as well as becoming mindful [心在] and at ease.

I prefer taking photos of the traces left by time — blotches and stains. To me, most of the time I don’t see such things as stains. I see them as works of art, as if they were paintings. [In this case,] however, nature is the painter. When I take my photographs, I don’t have anything . . .

【2:00】. . . 冇嘢諗嘅 | 但係唔係一片空白喎 | 即係話我仍然係感受到當時個環境 | 譬如話,我見到一樣嘢我覺得有一種感動嘅 | 噉我就會攞個相機出嚟影低佢 | 噉但係影嘅時候我唔會諗,話「啊,呢張相我可以表現乜嘢 | 啊,我要加一句咩句子落去 | 又或者我將會係要嚟出書還是係做展覽」| 全部冇呢啲嘢諗 | 我就純粹喺個當下 | 百分之一百放咗落去個感覺

今次展覽嘅特色呢,就係話 | 我啲攝影作品係印喺一張透明膠片上便 | 噉而嗰張透明膠片係好大張 | 喺欣賞嗰個作品嘅時候呢,你會穿過嗰個膠片 | 你會睇到後邊周圍嘅大自然環境 | 呢一個展覽會係喺日曬雨淋嘅情況 | 啫係話,係喺 outdoor 嗰度擺嘅 | 噉所以呢 . . .

● 空白 hūng1 baahk6 = a blank space | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 相機 seung3 [or séung3*2] gei1 = camera | ● 出書 chēut1 syū1 = to put out a book | ● 純粹 sèuhn4 seuih6 = pure; unadulterated | ● 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph | ● 透明 tau3 mìhng4 = transparent | ● 膠片gāau1 pín3*2 = usu. “film”; here perhaps “a piece of plastic” | ● 日曬雨淋 yaht6 saai3 yúh5 làhm4 = be exposed to the sun and the rain

. . . in my mind, but it’s not just a total blank. What I mean is that I’m still experiencing my surroundings at that time. For instance, if I see something and feel moved by it, I will get out my camera and take a photo of it. But when I am photographing it, I am not thinking [to myself]: “I could use this photo to express such-and-such. I could add some words to accompany it [as a caption], or I could put out a book or hold an exhibition.” None of these things occurs to me. I am simply in the moment, putting myself 100% into the feeling.

The special thing about this exhibition is that my photographic works have been printed on transparent sheets of plastic, very large sheets of transparent plastic. When you’re enjoying one of the works, you can look through the plastic at the surrounding natural environment. This exhibition is exposed to the sun and the rain. That is, it has been set up [擺] outdoors. So for this reason . . .

【3:00】. . . 就再響應埋大自然嗰個定律 | 就係話,一切嘅嘢都會成、住、壞、空 | 噉我哋係一齊去體驗呢一啲展品 | 喺一個大自然環境之下一路 . . . 一路不停咁樣變化

● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law | ● 成、住、壞、空 sìhng4 jyuh6 waaih6 hūng1 = to come into being, to abide, to run down, to become empty

. . . it again responds to that law of nature: all things come into being, abide, run down, and become empty. Together we experience the works in this exhibition in a natural environment that is always constantly changing.

《新心界》:「野」


Ever since the night of the Cantonese Speaking Contest, 阿綠 Ah Luk has wondered about 陳之一 Chan Chi-yat’s preposterous connection with the Italian folk-song “Santa Lucia”. As for 孚翠 Fu-cheui — urban worshipper of all that is truly wild — a visit to Kadoorie Farm in Lam Tsun finally gives her a dream come true: a very close feline encounter with a leopard cat.

Soundtrack: “A Whale of a Tale

喺「林記點心」食完早餐之後,大家就施施然漫步行去車站等64K巴士。孚翠特別開心,心思思盼望可以親眼見到多種極為罕見嘅動物,仲出於好奇心向阿奇用英文提出咗好多問題。同一時間,陳之一忍唔住諗起英國颱風專家希活,呢個人喺上世紀三十年代嚟到香港,四十年代後半期出任香港天文台台長。佢特別鐘意香港嘅自然環境,加上經常出去周圍行山,後尾就將呢方面嘅體驗總結成書仔,標題為《漫游香港》,特登介紹佢最欣賞嘅地方同埋景點。書寫到林村山谷嘅時候,佢有一段話係咁樣形容:「依我睇,行上轉往林村山谷嘅路徑,係等如踏入另一個境界嘅門戶,充滿傳奇。四圍矗立嘅丘陵將山谷同喧鬧嘅人間徹底隔絕,令到鄉村、田野同埋樹林沉浸於一股古老而寧靜嘅氣氛之中」。雖然希活所描述嘅風景已經有八十年歷史,但係嗰種零舍獨特嘅自然美照,澳洲男人睇到而家仍然能夠覺察到——希活被呢一帶山谷所感染嘅濃烈感受仲未冚唪唥消失嗮。

到咗巴士站冇幾耐,車就準時駛入車站俾乘客上落。因為係終點站嘅關係,佢哋好容易就揾到一個唔使分散嘅四人座位,兩人對兩人咁四個人坐埋一齊,面對車尾嘅係孚翠同阿奇。佢哋繼續津津樂道咁傾偈,不過而家改為紐西蘭男人提問,熱愛馬騮同烈酒嘅後生女人回答,話題已經由動物轉到歐洲流行歌曲。可能出於呢個原因,阿綠嘅腦海無啦啦出現咗陳之一嗰晚喺自己屋企瞓覺期間唱歌嘅畫面,於是佢口氣少帶幾分整蠱咁決定以「突擊」嘅方式問佢:「噉你可唔可以話我知點解你咁鐘意唱《散塔露淇亞》呢首意大利民歌呢?」

「咦?」南半球瘦子對住坐喺身邊嘅發暗家睩大對眼,臉上就好似一個「囧」字咁,冇辦法掩蓋心入面嘅驚訝。「你幾時聽到我唱呢首歌㗎?我唱歌咁鮓,點會肯喺朋友面前獻世㗎啫!」

「咪演講比賽嗰一晚囉!其實,你嗰陣好似好發瘟咁,一次又一次重複『散塔露淇亞,散塔露淇亞』呢段副歌。唔通就係香港嘅第三種音樂?」

陳之一隨即擰轉頭望車窗望望外嘅風景,心中依然諗住希活「另一個境界嘅門戶」呢句說話。睇到男人咁樣嘅反應,粒聲都唔出,頭髮染色嘅女人後悔自己頭先採取贈興嘅口吻。不過,啱啱想開口講聲「對唔住」嘅時候,陳之一又轉過臉嚟,面帶笑容咁向佢打咗吓眼色。

「真係夠嗮騎呢呀!好多年前,我禮拜六得閒去咗又一城飲杯咖啡,之後漫無目的咁散步行到大坑東邨附近嘅遊樂場。嗰陣時咁橋進行緊一場足球比賽,於是我就企喺場側便一邊睇波,一邊亂諗心事。好可惜,十分鐘之後就聽到裁判吹口哨嘅尖銳聲音,宣佈呢場比賽正式結束。當時時間尚早,我就坐喺長櫈睇吓書,睇嘅係我最鐘意嘅中級廣東話課本,係由英國語言學家馬詩帆同太太葉彩燕合作撰寫嘅,封面設計選用嘅色調竟然係一種吸睛嘅粉紅色。過咗一陣,我眼前突然間出現一個男人,身型好高。當佢注意到我本書係廣東話教材嘅時候,就開始撩我講嘢。本來我好開心遇到呢次練習講外語嘅機會,但係過咗一段時間,我就嫌嗰個人有少少太癡纏,感覺好似被佢利用嚟消磨時間。呢個時候,男人話我知佢嘅嗜好係唱歌,然後就突然跪落下喺我面前大聲唱歌,姿勢同求婚基本上似到十足㗎!其實,佢把聲好似係經過訓練,又洪亮又好聽,但係我忍唔住覺得好老尷,因為當其時周圍都有好多人喺度跑緊步啦、踢波啦、鍛煉筋骨啦,大坑東游樂場咁啱就係高峰時期,嗰啲業餘運動員都對呢次嘅即興演唱會特別有興趣,真係一種難忘嘅東西文化交流活動!好明顯,我之後就同《散塔露淇亞》結下咗呢種獨一無二嘅緣份啦!」

「嘩!估唔到會搞成咁喎!」阿綠好愕然咁喃喃自語。

自好耐之前第一次嚟嘉道理「上班」,阿奇越嚟越投入咁難得嘅工作環境裏邊,越嚟越唔捨得為香港嘅野生動物,好想繼續為佢哋作出貢獻作出貢獻。一邁入農場嘅入口,佢就搖身一變,轉眼間成為態度既嚴肅又認真嘅一個環保教育者,即刻開始向朋友分享佢對自然界嘅廣博知識。呢度並唔係通常會出現喺電視頻道嘅世界,以一種卡通化嘅形式去扭曲生物,而係直接令人接觸到盤根錯節又相互聯繫嘅宇宙。真係好矛盾:日益進步嘅科學增加咗環境嘅神秘感——連日常生活最微不足道嘅環節亦都符合《道德經》中所描寫嘅「玄之又玄,眾妙之門」嗰種境界。

經過映日園動物展覽館之後,佢哋就往左轉,行到霍克誠野生動物護理中心,去睇吓其中兩隻獲救嘅赤麂。雖然本性好怕羞,但係呢啲鹿仔已經完全習慣被無數嘅遊客近距離觀察,欣賞佢哋十分安全嘅生存空間。

「好難相信,夜晚黑沙啞嘅汪汪聲竟然係性格溫馴嘅你哋所發出㗎!」阿綠話,好似直接同赤麂對談緊咁。

跟住,孚翠出於好奇心問阿奇:「佢哋雙眼下面嗰啲係乜嘢嚟㗎?」

正喺度望緊手機嘅阿奇過咗一陣(好似係睇完一條短訊)先回答:「呢樣嘢 . . . 叫『香腺』 . . . 係赤麂用嚟 . . . 唔知點講 . . . 『標明』。」

「『標明』?咩係『標明』?」孚翠隨後好似唔太明白咁追問。

阿奇差啲諗壞腦,過咗一段時間之後就進一步講解:「即係『地盤』 . . . 標明地盤 . . . 標明有食物嘅地方 . . . 同埋佢特別鐘意去嘅 . . . 地點。」

「哦,原嚟係咁樣!」崇拜馬騮嘅女仔話,對『標明』 嘅含義已經有丁點嘅了解。

「其實呢,」阿奇停頓片刻後再繼續解釋,「赤麂有另一個特徵 . . . 一般有蹄嘅動物 . . . 每一隻腳有蹄 . . . 但係赤麂淨係得兩隻腳嘅啫 . . . 好得意!」

陳之一呢刻好想了解清楚係後腿有鹿蹄定係前腿,又或者係前腿一隻後腿一隻,但係好可惜喺開口提問之際,紐西蘭「筷子鼓手」又一次耷低頭接電話。

「對唔住 . . . 動物拯救中心有事 . . . 只有幾分鐘啫。孚翠!你同我去 . . . 今日你有運氣!」話口未完,阿奇就轉身離開,孚翠乘機跟住佢後面一齊走,令到剩低嘅兩個人一臉茫然。

到達診所側門嗰陣,阿奇低聲向孚翠解釋吓情況:「豹貓啱啱做完手術 . . . 好好彩,冇咩問題!你要戴上醫護服裝 . . . 避免感染 . . . 如果遇上同事盤問 . . . 你就係實習生,好冇呀?記得啦!我哋只有兩分鐘!快啲!」

一行入手術室,孚翠就被金屬台上嘅成年豹貓深深震撼。由於佢呢刻仍然處於麻醉狀態,所以除咗胸部隨住呼吸不斷上下起伏之外,豹貓瞓低喺度喐都唔喐,好似價錢昂貴嘅藝術品咁。嘩,真係太完美喇!孚翠暗中諗,但係同一時間,佢難以解釋點解會產生咁強烈嘅反應。會唔會同豹貓嗰啲佈滿皮毛嘅斑紋有關,俾到人嘅印象既神秘又充滿魅力?又或者係因為佢嘅身材之美?——貓嘅外貌處處都係寓意靈敏、堅強、優美、張力、獨立。孚翠一時三刻冇辦法攪清楚,只好企喺豹貓面前,默默欣賞呢隻受輕傷嘅動物。戴上衛生手套嘅後生女好想伸手觸摸豹貓令人着迷嘅紋理,為此真係要出力控制住自己。佢心諗:嘩,呢隻豹貓可以話係野性一種既優美又純粹嘅象徵同埋圖騰,同時又有能力將人心深處早被活埋嘅野性復活起嚟。唔怪得之人抗拒唔到豹貓嘅吸引力!

「阿翠!夠鐘啦。我哋 . . . 即刻要走啦!」聽到近距離傳嚟一陣雜沓嘅腳步聲,孚翠只好依依不捨咁跟隨男人離開手術室,永遠離開眼前帶嚟咁多啟迪嘅 . . . 唔係「天使」. . . 而係更加罕見嘅一名「大地使」。

With a Capital W

Photo by Tato Villanova on Pexels.com


On sunny days,
I make sure I spend plenty of fresh-air-time
with my other — wilder — brother,
Shadow. Together
we go our separate ways wherever we happen
to please ourselves. But
when Cloud is King,
I am the one reduced to shade,
overcast exactly
for hours at a time in one and the same place,
while he steps in
where I left off: thrilled by those three —
or four — or five dimensions
as he sets off in search of that wholler, humaner, humankinder world.
And if I’ve told him once,
I’ve told him a thousand times:
“If you find it, brother, remember:
JUST AS SOON AS YOU CAN PLEASE COME BACK FOR ME!”