I sat at the back of a classroom
With twenty lads in a warm and humid afternoon.
My mentor taught his English before the board,
Writing cursive with his chalk.
I caught a certain breeze of calm,
Gazing at a buzzing ceiling fan
Its metal blades revolving around
a milky white and pivotal round.
It was not the cool that brought so much certainty up
When a boy switched the “medium” button to the top;
But spotting that these three blades would stop,
Every time I blinked, at the same spot.
An anchor of my teenage idle mind,
The blades turned and turned without rewind,
Promising the air would not be drawn
Like an exhaust fan that would make us yawn.
Unlike the egg tart bakery on the corner
That used to be another anchor,
Where steaming buns metamorphosed
Into real estate agents’ xeroxes.
Harrowed, I learnt that “sustain” is my city’s motto.
Boarding the MTR from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town
Taught me to take nothing for granted; terminus changes.
My city sustains itself by robbing me of certainty.
Clicking their blue ball pens,
The boys knew where to lunch.
Boxing his microphone,
My mentor got going to his room.
Yet, “where to go as the school bell rings?”
It was just a hanging doubt I asked.
Away from the slowing fan I glanced at a clock’s long hand,
A minute or two or three before the lesson’s end.
William Ng is a fourth-year student at the Department of English and the Department of Education. “How A Ceiling Fan Rotates” is the Second Prize Winner of the English Poetry Contest 2015. [Read other poems from the 2015 contest.] [Click here to read all entries by William.]