Whither Hong Kong? / September 2014 (Issue 25)

Two Poems

by Wendy Gan


Candles cake a gift a knife a smile a flash a wish a cut
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you

On the streets on the other side of the barricade
A finger wagging, pointed and poking
A voice shrill and shrieking
Auntie, you remind me of my mother

Who thought she could make me obey
With a knife of a finger jabbing
A flash of the hand
A cut of the tongue

Then a cake, a candle, a gift, a wish, a smile
Once a year, once a year

Auntie, keep scolding
Keep telling us we're selfish, we're rubbish
We can take it
We'll even sing you Happy Birthday
It never made us happy but
It might make you


We sit on the road
We do our homework
Sometimes we sleep
Or attend an open-air class:
History, politics, even origami
(I've learnt to fold a paper umbrella!)
Sometimes an uncle or auntie comes
Some are nice; they bring food
A few shout at us:
'If you were my son
I would beat you!'
We try to keep our cool
Smile, say thank you
Pick up our trash

My dad found out I was protesting
That one night I went home
He yelled; I yelled
He raised his hand; I pushed back
He went white and walked into his room
We no longer speak

That night the angry men came
I ran to the barricades
Men who look like my dad
With twisted faces and heavy hands
When I fell, all I could think of was
How happy my dad would be that
Someone was teaching me a lesson.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.