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A Palm, A Fountain, An Umbrella




Dear Canton Girl,


How are you?

I am always asked by the locals

mastering the question as if none.


How are you, darling?



in Cantonese,

is an intimate word kept private.


I write you a postcard.

A river of text runs across the Public Garden.

I lost the map so I used a dictionary

searching for star colours.

Colour or color? 

Submarine yellow or electric white?

From island to island,

expecting some welcoming palms 

like a California tee. 

I saw none.


Oh, I saw one.

A green statue standing on an island.

We called it Bing Tou Garden,

literally the Head of British Soldiers’.

Will I see you again in the botanical garden?


The Royal palm travels across oceans

conquering the land with some green

and factories in between.


Flowers bloom in forever red

Plastic futures assemble in ladies’ hands

one bit at a time,

one bead at a time.


All palm trees are tall,

but some are taller than others,

growing wild on avenues.

from Queen’s to Nathan Road,

from King’s to Hennessy Road.

Palm trees and umbrellas stand still

humming the anthem in typhoons 

coming from South China Sea.

The palm grows into a fountain,

always a newer wonder

fighting one another 

trashing the photo albums of families and lovers.


Cannot hate it properly 

but in tragic love.



I stood behind the people with a polaroid

to photograph the wishing fountain

that does not exist yet.

Here lies the rainbow for wishful thinkers.

Fountain vapour hits the sun

like a gun.


Through the viewfinder,

a frame with a cross in the middle,

I see you.


You left an umbrella.

Monsoon drew scars. 


No, stars.

Midday sun shines a constellation on earth.


I shoot you a portrait

one that belongs to tomorrow.


I repaint the photograph

adding a raindrop to the ultramarine.


You own

not a label but a name.

You unguard the porcelain skin,

undo the epoxy hair.

You hold an umbrella

firm and still.


Forever yours,

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