"The Past" Contest Winners / September 2012 (Issue 18)

Letter to Queen Victoria from the People of Hong Kong, 2012

by Michael Gray

Michael Gray Another storm. Birds fly like small umbrellas.
Typhoon gales break. Trees pull up white tiles and block
major roads. And the border's blurring even more these days.
Mainlanders reach the end of the East Rail Line (a kind of faster train)
and transfer. We catch them, yelling: Leave. The answer: No.
Our firm reply: You have the wrong country. Go north. They
move across your harbor in boats, or underneath, using our roads.
Other foreigners (who look like you), eyes gleaming in Mong Kok’s
neon, flash cameras at what they now find exotic.
SIM cards for our mobile phones (this is how we talk) click. No.
They slide in without a sound. At Chungking Mansions,
crowds emerge from elevators or rain, exchanging their cash
for what we use here: money ridged like Kowloon’s hills
and housing estates you never imagined on any local map.
The smell of curry fills the air, still very fresh. The naan's
still warm, wrapped in crumpled foil. And some TVs (what we
watch) show people speaking your English,
no matter where they're from.
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