Chung Kiu Love Story
There she is: dusting again the antiques
with a gai mou sou: blue porcelain,
milky snuff bottles, all those ivory animals.
When she speaks she fills the room
with her thick Northern accent,
charms everyone with that lilt.
People back then loved the newsagents:
kites, Green Spot Juice, worship goods.
Drama series and ghost tales on the radio.
From my counter of calligraphy scrolls,
I ask her out. ‘You look just like
Danny Summer.’ I’m pleased.
Roasting chicken wings in Tai Tam,
we hum Paul Simon’s ‘Cecilia’.
That year she turns eighteen
and John Lennon comes to town,
we flaunt our youth in wide-brimmed
sunglasses and ‘trumpet-shaped’ jeans.
My dad is a red soldier at heart,
and her mom can never forgive
the communists. But we are young,
Do we listen to anyone?
So we marry that year, in Spring.
A wedding without a gown.
Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl
I am wearing a crepe-de-chine dress
and suede stilettos that do not belong to me.
I’m carrying nothing but my lies
and my L’Absolut lipstick, red as a warning.
I am rather good at this smiling game,
speaking Mandarin to the customers.
The trick is to flatter them, flattered as they
already are, being wives of the nouveau riche
from a changing China. They wear sunglasses
and diamond rings even when they sleep.
At home they play mahjong and drink longjing,
dress only in European ready-to-wear:
a tee with velvet trim, Chanel denim jacket
with (real) emerald collar, flip flops lined
with rabbit fur. They always pay in cash.
They have a home in England and also
in other European cities. For them
flying long-haul is quite bearable
because of the pre-flight Swedish massage,
will be worthwhile if they bring home
a Miu Miu bag with the latest buckle.
In our home country we would never
have met, but here I have touched their waists,
know their bra sizes and their children’s names,
working in this store in the heart of Mayfair,
where each evening I’d slip out
of the black dress like a fish, go home
with my sore feet, with a free mind of my own.
Jennifer Wong was born in and grew up in Hong Kong. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Rialto, Stand, Magma Poetry, The North, and Oxford Poetry, while her poetry translations have appeared in Poetry Review and Pathlight (forthcoming). She studied MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia and is completing a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. She has taught poetry at Poetry School, Oxford Brookes and City Lit.