Three Poems

Treasures From the Vault:

These poems were originally published in the Summer 2006 issue of the Asia Literary Review.








South China Morning Post, an English newspaper, is delivered
To our doorstep every morning, and we let it
Stay until all other neighbours know
Our language abilities.
We dress well, even when taking out
The garbage or buying a San Miguel
From the store downstairs.
But let's not boast to our neighbours
How much more beautiful we are,
How much more intellectually-trained.

They don't care. They live less ambiguously. They speak
One dialect only. Already they are free
From feeling embarrassed when pronouncing
/r/ as /l/, /n/ as /l/ or /z/ as /s/. They don't feel
Excluded when two real English speakers
Are in the same room, commenting on
Memoirs of A Geisha or
Bill Ashcroft's postcolonial theories.
We dare not open our mouths, lest our strong HK
Accent betrays our humble origin. The terrible
Flatness of our tone, the inflexibility of our tongue.



The comfort of strangers


The comfort of strangers. Each time
everyone has a new identity and tonight
she is no longer a dancing queen and
a girlfriend of two.

She tells him she makes ends meet
by writing short stories for kids
and he tells her he owns a diamond farm
in Manchester.

Lying on top of layers of lies and personal
regrets, she feels secure
and he is asleep.



Butterfly pin


He insisted that I wear my hair in a bun with
a white butterfly pin and always cut
my fingernails on Sunday before having
milk and bread for breakfast. So there was
a precedent:

    like Lolita wasn't Humbert's first
Love. When we both looked into the mirror I

In his eyes the reflection of us unable to
disentangle from each other. The butterfly

dropped dead on the floor and she left, at
that precise moment. I know.


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