I try to imagine you as a girl-
a street of four-storey plaster buildings,
carved wooden doors, weathered, almost shrines
(like in those postcards of old Hong Kong you loved)-
you, a child in bed, the neighbours always in
and out, a terrier dog, half-finished bowls
of rice, the ivory Mah Jong tablets
clacking, like joints, swift and mechanical,
shrill cries -ay-yah! fah!- late into the night.
My heart is bounded by a scallop shell-
This strange pilgrimage to home.
From Crossing from Guangdong by Sarah Howe
Sarah Howe is a British poet and academic. She was born in Hong Kong. This excerpt is from her first full-length poetry collection Loop of Jade, winner of the T. S. Eliot prize and the Sunday Times/ Peter Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award.
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