When I speak in Cantonese, I’m almost a different person. Louder, brighter. The seven tones, ascending, descending like musical notes. My grandparents, leaving the fragrant harbour of Hong-Kong, the Pearl River of Guang-Zhou for the dream of a better life in the West – what did they make of English? Alighting from the liner at the docks in the rain, hearing Liverpool accents for the first time – two gold koi swimming into the Mersey.
I dreamt of you again there in that Victorian house draped with ivy and wisteria by the lake and the park an attic room overlooking a garden gone wild bramble red clover nettles
an array of sash windows criss-crossed with bars on the outside and inside the frames dusty with cobwebs a White-Witch moth
the room filled with smoke and candlelight perfume of juniper berries no furniture just a bed an old turntable a mélange of Rameau and Beefheart cherubs on the ceiling and up the alabaster walls
An Old Flame
Lately she can’t stop thinking of him again – their brief dance when her amber dress flared up in the night like a match – struck, then quickly extinguished before the fire started.