“Red Leaves for Diane” by Victoria Ip


For every single memory
Has become a part of me
—George Michael, “Jesus to a Child”

The online poetry collection Red Leaves is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Diane—the reason why I started writing when I was 19 and haven’t stopped since. There are 14 poems in total, one for each year since I became a writer.

My tribute takes the form of poetry, which is virgin territory for me but the most fitting for Diane because she was a tremendously gifted writer who lived and breathed poetry.

Red Leaves is part fact, part fiction, and all good intention. It aims to evoke how earnestly beautiful a person and multifaceted a creative being Diane was.

I waited 17 years after Diane’s departure to do this because anything less than a decent tribute is unacceptable, and 2016 also marked the two decades since I first got to know her. The timing is ripe now—I simply wasn’t ready ten years ago, and like all the brilliant ones, she wasn’t a fan of half measures. And if I wait another ten years I don’t know where I’ll be so I should just seize the day.

I got inspired by a tender poem about autumn in the school magazine Diane handwrote and illustrated when she was a child—a testament to her genius at such a young age.

My collection Red Leaves comprises three acts: “Red Star”, “Beautiful Star” and “Life on Mars”. The sections are called ‘acts’ because Diane was also immensely gifted in the arena of drama.

This is my first personal project and I promised myself years ago that it would be about Diane because she made me realise what role I want to play on this stage called life—there is no bigger gift a friend can give than that. This is my way of thanking Diane: for seeing the butterfly this caterpillar could become, for teaching me to fly. I am still earning my wings but I am trying hard to get there.

Red Leaves is for anyone who has lost a loved one. And below, I would like to share two poems from the collection: “Red Roses” and “Red Leaves”.

Diane, I hope you like this and we will meet again. Life goes on, but life is not the same without you.

Red Roses.pngLettering by Victoria Ip, illustration by Crystal Maisie Lo

Red Roses
27 September 2016

You draped your dreams in red,
It was more than your favourite pigment.
It was defiant love
That could bridge the gulf
Of cynical disillusionment.

If you were Midas,
You would turn the things you touch
Into the blush of fever,
Until your universe pulsated with a singular fervour.

Suited up in rose red for your curtain call,
With your freshly cut autumn-hued hair standing tall,
And my diminutive hand in yours,
You said, ‘I would love to see it all.’

Red Leaves.png
Lettering by Victoria Ip, illustration by Crystal Maisie Lo

Red Leaves
28 September 2016

Like a red leaf that broke free,
You left the dock and sailed away.

In my time-yellowed book you nestle with glee,
There you will have your say.

Your story will be told through me,
I already sought and found that needle in the hay.

Weaving your tapestry,
Day by day.

Through your soul eyes I would see,
Until that fateful day.


Victoria.jpgVictoria Ip is a Hong Kong Baptist University graduate (Class of 2005). [Read all entries by Victoria here.]

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