Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
(upon the occasion of her birthday)
All watches in the house have stilled,
the air is heavy with reluctant rain.
My eldest daughter has nothing
to master time by.
I wonder if I will still be here
when she realizes
that time is a declination.
Calloused hands. A weakening grip.
A pixel or byte cannot lean, sway, or bend
toward myriad objects in motion.
Cannot yet render their joining.
Their pull, first together,
She is my heroine, my champion.
who owns my heart.
She, my proud Judith, will encircle evil,
wrest neutrality from its jaws.
She will gaze steadily
at how eternity always passes,
dripping into bowls.
her father’s fierce love
that telling time is merely telling.
The decapitation of a nothing.
I pass shops named Japan City—
choking on plastics—and Packed Place.
(No warranty, no mood.)
I am defeated. And sweating, now,
just as the clouds break.
Then spy, at last, the sih fu’s
regular spot below
the old tin street sign.
Where he has sat in all weathers,
Since before clocks blinked.
He has gone home for the day.
His stool retracted against the wet.
I stand rooted, aghast,
marveling at this shrine,
this pride of place.
Neither blood nor soil.
An oracle, I see him tomorrow
as if it were yesterday:
His fluttering hands, coaxing,
whispering to the stilled thing
in his fingers.
It shudders then awakens,
encircling my daughter’s wrist
like a twisting vine.
She raises her umbrella
to the sky.
the corner beyond my sight.
Stuart Christie is Head of the Department of English Language and Literature. [Click here to read all entries by or about Stuart.]