Dressing the Naked Eye

2017-08-14 Kindling

The upright piano stands like an empty cupboard of music
where a small boy holding balloons bigger than his head
stands talking story to a pulse in consciousness
and to the portrait of a fresh-faced Queen
in the deserted gloom of a daytime picture theatre.
We speak briefly, for contact more than content,
as morning sharpens its chill breath
against the fine-crushed gravel of the narrow path.
Violet-leaves curled in a sidelong shade
go on concocting a promise of Winter flowers,
and the berries bequeathed by dead elder-blossom
glint with prick-sparks of highlit gloss.
In a canyon of orange brickwork,
I recall for no reason the small shock of the sight of a yabby,
washed from a dam and drowned in sunshine,
dazzling whiter at the side of a road
than chips of quartz. Its albino husk
supported an almost perfect appearance of life
betrayed only by the fact of inanimate
absolute stillness. Near a main road,
as you guide me by hand against the traffic,
a breeze divides itself around my body’s tall building,
flawed by an age in love
with the wrong gold. Later, while cutting up firewood,
I notice how my sawing’s sawdust
imitates the falling sands of the hourglass:
the grains in their sift momentum
maintain formation against a full-strength wind,
half human voice, half inhuman noise
intent on scatter in the order of creatures
yet susceptible — oddly — to a melody’s skeleton-lilt.

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.

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.

Michelle and the Insider

2017-11-27 Ho Clan Temple RESIZED

She knew the sane feeling
a lithe body in motion can give
just by watching its concentration,
but it felt like a meeting of minds
when she joined her desire
to the face in the perfect mirror.
There was one defect:
the cellular life of her own body
was a butterfly lapsed on a flower,
calm in the jaws of a small spider
smartly acquiring its eyes.
There are no genuine flexions in this world,
she thought. Only reflections, sections
of that delirious, exterior stranger who lives
without us, on our skin
.
Eye is Lord, but Michelle saw reason:
she no longer submits
to the mere thrill of being
another’s amphibious smile.

She turned in.

 

“I Will Not Let Sadness Possess You”

Omid AZADIBOUGAR_

Wedding Colours. Photograph by Omid Azadibougar (2018)

Chastening to think
even detergent gets its chance to enchant,
wiping wry smiles and misappointment
off heavily adult faces.
(Note: there’s hope for us yet.)
Many kids find a lifetime’s first rainbow
in these transparent, shimmering planets,
lighter than thin air,
but strangely grave with a uranium poetry.
In the end does the rainbow really have to die for us all?
Through the spinning film of their lenses,
our ironic world becomes razor-vivid with renewal,
while the stateliness of their orbits
cannot but direct us
to the hushed intensive care at work
in our only begotten core.
In this atmosphere of convivial weightlessness
chock-a-block with laughter and atypical, unshrewd wonder,
we are invited against smugness —
and against the anti-complacency of wrongheaded zeal —
to sit back and relax
into what the unsung spectacle of these bubbles’ soap-soaring arias
minutely fine-tunes in our birth.

•《真正嘅假期》

Home_31 AUG 2018

Simon Patton 著

幾個月之前澳洲過咗又一次嘅復活節長假期。呢個國家嘅生活節奏比香港相比緩慢好多,因為多數人已經開始盼望假日嘅來臨,所以早喺耶穌受難節之前嘅禮拜一、禮拜二、禮拜三、禮拜四,成個社會,尤其喺我住嘅鄉下間地區,生活節奏大程度上放慢咗速度。不過,難道放假嘅意義就只在於“休息”呢兩個字上?

我幾年前就決定退休,早就唔使日日返工,曾經長期過咗嗰種朝九睌五(其實,更加正確咁講係朝八睌六)嘅生活模式。雖然如此,退休後嘅我因為我亦都深深欣賞放假嘅特有樂趣,所以同樣期望復活節嘅到來。咁樣好似暗示俾我哋知,渡假嘅意思唔一定係放工嘅同義詞啩。

一講到復活節,一般澳洲人會即刻聯想到十字包,對於我同埋大多數非基督教徒嘅普通人嚟講,復活節,除咗可以留喺屋企嘅唞吓之外,亦都以食大量十字包為主要內容,今年因為秋天格外暖和,所以我嘅習慣發生變化,平時鐘意食熱烘烘十字包嘅我就破例開始食凍嘅,配一杯西式奶茶一齊食真係好好味!澳洲人好似太過鐘意食呢種食物,早喺二月底,夏天熱浪逼人嘅天氣仲未結束時,大部分超市同埋鏈繫式麵包舖都已經可以買到。

不過,奇怪嘅係,放假嘅輕鬆氣氛啱啱令到我投入各種各樣我所鐘意做啲嘢,包括睇書、做翻譯、學廣東話等等,換句話,對我嚟講,“放假”嘅基本意思只不過係等於“我行我素”,盡量避免自己唔鐘意嘅事,專心致志從事個人嘅愛好,而且無形中攪到自己嘅生活節奏比平時脆快好多!咁樣“繁忙”真係可以算為放假?

復活節後收到電力公司通知,禮拜四上晝九點到下晝三點要停電。停電對於住喺城市嘅人士嚟講當然會帶嚟各種麻煩,不過對於住喺偏僻鄉下間嘅人嚟講,停電就意味著冇水喉水(呢度因為過渡偏僻,所以冇水管),冇得沖涼,亦冇法用廁所。我哋唯有依靠雨水缸同埋電力砵,因此停電係日常生活上影響特別深重。

近年,當夏天天氣炎熱嘅時候,呢個地區一年總會發生幾次停電事故,因此我哋對於過冇電力嘅日子都習以為常喇。澳洲鄉下夏天最驚嘅事就係野火,而且造成野火嘅重要原因之一就係電線發所射嘅電火花。正因為此,負責呢區嘅電力公司已經將大部分電線拆掉,以舖喺地下嘅電線所代替。或者因為呢個原因,停電嘅機率比過去多,我記得舊年有一次,連續十八個鐘頭都冇電,真係過原始人極為簡單嘅生活!不過,冇電好過野火好多啦!除咗電火花、雷電等等原因之外,澳洲好多嚴重嘅野火係被所謂縱火狂徒而點㗎,呢類人因為喺心理上出現問題,對於火災,佢哋會感到有種無法抗拒嘅吸引力,於是經常喺澳洲郊野公園燃起野火。真係不可思議!

不過,呢次我同老婆決定採取樂觀嘅態度,接受停電帶來嘅各種不便,睇睇能唔能夠做完一啲唔靠電力嘅家務。九點正,電力就按照通知而停止,我哋就出去評估花園嘅現狀。其實,天氣好好,氣溫二十幾度,正合適做一啲戶外雜務。到處都有好多落葉,顏色已經變得紅噹噹咁,雖然幾靚,但係真係太混亂,我哋就動手開始用耙將所有落葉耙埋一齊,再放喺小手推車入面,推到我哋專門做堆肥嘅地方。

唔經唔覺,我就慢慢投入呢種簡單嘅工作模式,而且對於嗰種以電郵、上網、寫嘢為主要內容嘅生活暫時忘得一乾二淨。喺將手推車推返花園嘅時候,突然間我抬頭睇睇周圍嘅草地、樹木、蔚藍嘅天空,認真咁睇嗰啲最為平凡,而最為基本嘅嘢,當時就產生某種“葉落歸根”嘅感情。原來假期應該咁樣過先至妥當呀!我哋日常生活一般喺屋企、辦公室、巴士、火車同埋娛樂場所等渡過,但係每逢渡過假日時先至有機會回翻到嗰啲又樸素又永久嘅基本存在當中。每一啖氣就認真呼吸,每一種動作就認真欣賞,每一次雀鳴就認真聆聽,咁樣接近所謂基本存在難以解釋嘅特質。

老實講,復活節對於我嚟講,冇乜傳統嘅宗教意思,但係由於一次偶然嘅停電,我就獲得一次徹底“復活”自己嘅機會,從中體會到假日嘅真實含義。

When We Die, Where Does Our Language Go?

Old House, Tung Ping Chau

It stopped you first in full flight mid-sentence
the common bronzewing dead on an overgrown path.
It looked like it might have fallen out of life
and out of sky in the same breath, dropped
in a goshawk’s botched shock-attack
through some whirrakee wattles. Dew ―
not blood ― beaded beautiful feathers
and its pale-pink claws stayed curled slightly out of habit
round upside-down air as the dog snuffled past
nose-noticing nothing.
I admit there are times when I wish for myself a death like this,
and not only in moments of sadness
beyond despair. As for your sentence:
now there’s something that can never ever be finished in this world ―
I feel my ears tingle even now
with echoes of its inspoken promise.