All My Thoughts are by Themselves (I)

Evette KWOK_The Fish

• “Oversensitivity”

The sneer cut deep and left me brooding ⸺
Why are you so shallow? he asked.
Why do you have to stay so close to the surface of things?
At dusk, I took a dog
and my anger
down to the dam. We sat on the stony shore,
musing and watching swallows drink
with the tip of the tip of themselves.
Blunt beaks pinpricked brown water,
summoning from the impact diamond-point
an upsurge of nested silver rings that grew wide ⸺
and then wider ⸺
through each and every inch of their circumference.
Over and over the birds did it,
perhaps as much for the ripples as for the thirst
and eventually I realized here the consolation, of course ⸺
learning ⸺ by my stubborn self through them ⸺
that skimming as a matter of act could have such singular-annular beauty.

Photograph by Evette Kwok (2019)

Climbing Uluru

Uluru

They walk over the quiet of the Rock . . .

Uwa, nyangatja nganampa ngura. Piranpaku ngura wiya. Maruku ngura . . .

bragging mid-air to the top,
a file of climbers, dotted line,
sign their names to themselves,
victorious.

Only the cautious — with the signboards
and the visitor information —
listen to Barbara Tjikatu:
“If you worry about Aboriginal law, then leave it,
don’t climb it.”

Cafe (Tai Hang Tung Estate大坑東邨)

Earth from the Moon

Ice in the tall glass cloaked with cola jostles bubbles of fizz, and I feel this heat tell only the hard wood under my tail-bone. The TV is mute: it addresses the room graphically, in fluent Chinese characters, beneath perfectly made-up faces lip-reading “facts” and “news”. The kitchen, for its few orders, roars industrially out of the wok, while — in the centre of his Imaginary Lounge Room — a man chats through a smart hair-cut deeper into the mirror of his private booth.

Bad Light

2018-09-20 Carrs Road Clouds 3

Steer clear when the light turns bad.

Avoid the rank smell small habit has —
“survival” is repetition.
Be as little the creature you’ve been so long:
untangle your life from the sad dragnets
and respond to the pull of the glad magnets
wherever attraction bees
and buzzes.
That buzz is your rule of thumb:
don’t settle too soon for comfortable numbness
and whatever you do
don’t stick your hands
in that dazzling, advertised wealth

of the willing dumb.

“When I Walk up the Footbridge” by Woo Sai Nga, translated by Audrey Heijns

Woo Moon & Footbridge Image

Please scroll down for the Chinese version!

“When I Walk up the Footbridge”

Sometimes I am inclined to
acceptance that vehicles driving along the road naturally
tend to get stuck in one direction
and refuelling is never a solution
susceptibility in extreme weather can only accelerate expansion or shrinkage
roads that are cracked open
people smashed to pieces
the world is supposed to be like this, full of defects
and we are fragile throughout

At other times, for example
in the face of headwinds, when my fringe is ruffled
it is easy to believe that
what I once accepted has already aged, and will eventually
be like the cracks in the road,
the people who repair the road,
will have to be us

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

〈當我走上天橋〉/ 胡世雅

有時我傾向接受
路上的車當然會向同一方向堵塞
加油永遠不能成為辦法
過份易感只會在極端天氣下加速膨脹或收縮
裂開的是路面
破碎是人
世界本應如此,充滿缺陷
而我們始終脆弱

也有一些時候,例如
逆風的日子,當瀏海翻動
便又輕易相信
曾經接受過的已經老去,終會
像路面斷裂
而修路的人
會是我們

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

● Woo Sai Nga, born in Hong Kong, is a member of Fannou Poetry Society. She graduated from the Chinese Department, Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2017 and is now teaching at a secondary school. She publishes poems in literary magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has won the Youth Literary Award (青年文學獎) and the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese (中文文學創作獎) in Hong Kong.

● Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Phantom Memory

Moss, Quartz & Kangaroo Dung_RESIZED_AUG 2019

He was a sales rep,
he’d hit the road for weeks at a time
trying his best to flog carpets gadgets LP records —
god-knows-what! Once, he brought home for us
a sample volume full of the start
of a 100 illustrated stories
but not an ending in sight
despite my endless re-readings.
(I’m still waiting.) And then
there were the ukuleles, perhaps a swap
with some other travelling mate, their thin strings
strung as taut as the highest high-wire;
our fingers, however, they were
no tight-rope walkers.
Perhaps his head dreamed incessantly of Hawai’i
from our twanging Melbourne gloom.
You can’t blame him for trying, can you?
Now look at him, old salesman,
shadow of his former sell,
but after a lifetime, the story,
Hawai’i, these — undeniable —
stay true past us all.

 

Photograph: Moss, Quartz & Kangaroo Dung

Escalator Revery

Door at Kam Tin Tin Hau Temple 2016_RESIZED

Step out onto that silent grooved plate,
lay absent-minded fingers on the sleek handrail,
and wait for that memorable uplifting shift
to platform slats of flat metal
out into magical stairs.
As wide awareness of the world
drops away from attention, sink
as you stand motionless
in movement back into personal dream.
What goes on from this point
you have little idea, and when the everyday-conscious
re-asserts its lapsed claim,
there you are, red-faced,
hard-pressed to recall
where exactly you were all that time in between
this and that — spot-lit — mirror-blank —
shopping-centred — floor.

 

Photograph: 香港錦田天后廟 Kam Tin Tin Hau Temple, Hong Kong