Jocelyn Li Sin Ting
As if a membrane
My tongue, numb
Don't take this away from me too.
I was silent, sucking on a slice of mandarin,
even now, marinating
RED RIDING HOOD
How do you find your way back to somewhere you've never gone before? How do you scratch the scabs off your knobby-kneed Cantonese and realise those 5**s in English are just a side-effect of the colonisation before this much-bloodier colonisation that will take more than a band-aid to soak up, soldier through? It's too late to relearn the words that mean home beyond A for Admiralty and annual marches; you've been marvelling at birches and picking daffodils for far too long you've never thought to look back. It's too late to start running, running as if you know who exactly is chasing after you, as if you don't know how many years it will be before you can breathe the same air on this street, free to raise your palms and reach for the cotton drifting between trees and your plain sneakers again. It's too late to train up on sprinting because next time you'll not be so lucky and the wolves wouldn't stumble. This time they'll find something—they always 'find' something—and this time the fake American accent that set you apart from your neighbours, your nation that you've always only touched with Katana gloves, will not be enough to save you from getting ripped apart and thrown across edges of mountains you never knew existed in Hong Kong, into oceans that blend into algae-stained waters they've claimed with a pinyinned name. How do you tell your saujuks that no harbour is safe when you can barely write, much less type it out for the bots to spread? See how you're shrouded in red already, Grandma's meticulous work long before all this. She must have known then, of the wolves preying through windscreens, eyes glowing red and blue, ready to pounce.
Being a Hongkonger means we'll never get to look at what we used to admire, and what we used to be proud of, the same way again.