From A Sip of Tea by Ye Si, translated by Audrey Heijns (1)

Audrey Heijns_Rainy Mong Kok

21, Cold after the rain

There’s a glass pane in the restaurant facing the street. The people sitting inside can see a middle-aged man walking past slowly. He turns his head to one side, and casts a slanting glance inside. From the outside one can see a man sitting in a compartment seat staring out the window.

*   *   *

Outside the delivery van is unloading soft drink. Women, who bought groceries, carry baskets passing by. A Pakistani with a turban also walks by. It’s busy in the street, and crowded, the road is wet after the rain. The humid feeling indoors is the lamp light reflected in the glass of water that is half-empty.

*   *   *

People outside can’t hear the gentle music inside. People inside can’t feel the cold after the rain.


21 雨後的寒意





● Ye Si, pen name of Leung Ping Kwan (1949-2013), is a celebrated Hong Kong poet, essayist, fiction writer and photographer. He has published many volumes of poetry, essays and stories, including: Paper Cuts (1982), City at the End of Time (1992), Foodscape (1997), Travelling with a Bitter Melon (2002), Postcards from Prague (2000) and Postcolonial Affairs of Food and the Heart (2009). He was Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at Lingnan University 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.


Photograph: Rainy Mong Kok (Audrey Heijns)

The Pre-enactment of Rain is Not True Rain

Evette KWOK_Bus Shelter in Rain TWO_30 AUG 2018

“What is the poet in Australia to do? He must learn how to make it rain in words.”
— Robert Wood, History & the Poet

Try fixing the boundary between forerain
and rain . . . Forerain errs forever
on the side of the individual, each drop
having a whole vertical cubicle of atmosphere
to itself.
In this it shows, liquidly conspicuous,
but never showers, a doomed, one-hand clapping rain
that peters out for want of symphony.
True rain is orchestral:
it is — by instinct and by definition — a drenching mass noun.
Every article in a downpour performs
to the echoing chorus of its sisters.
There are no distinct palm-beats in a sea of applause:
the Supreme Admiral Pattern
enjoys self-evident precedence over all
that is not it — assertion, confidence, nerve —
and, when the rain rains off,
a wide hush like dust
endorses the world’s choice.

Photograph: Evette Kwok

Goose Pimples

Earth from the Moon

The shine of setting sun proved stronger than the splatter
of rain, still only a distant ticking on a sheep farmer’s
tin-roofed shed. We could believe our eyes.
We did not believe our ears, when, on through the blind glare,
the sound of the downpour edged closer, no longer
a metallic type-written clatter but liquid inciting
the vocal retort of a dam. We knew then
that we had to stay put where we paused, perched
on the renewed awkwardness of stationary bikes.
With the rest of the dry world bathed in glow, the shower
barged helter-skelter in on our makeshift hide,
drenching us lightly through a ramshackle canopy
to give us our first goose bumps, hint of new Autumn
invisible by day in March’s postscript to Summer,
but apparent at once with the outbreak of night, like first stars.