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BooksSeptember 16, 2022

The Friday Poem: ‘Hong Kong’ by Hannah Patterson

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by Wellington poet Hannah Patterson.

Hong Kong

I grew up with feathers in my mouth
flaming hands and sparkling teeth.
the pavement of make-believe cities.
I don’t have childhood memories.
I only have childhood dreams.
like once, I caught a taxi home.
stepped through the red door.
let the smell of plastic and smoke hit,
the wooden beads jangling above,
my baby hands on my baby phone,
repeating my address in borrowed words.
rounding up hills,
up the long drive, to the back
garden with a trampoline
we pretended we had powers. like you
were the sea and I was the wind.
we’d stand in the lobby, little palms
sweating, swinging our slingshots and
waiting for lifts, building up worlds and
tearing them down. stables of horses
behind our apartments. does any of this make
sense to you? whole families in
shoeboxes. walls seeping with people.
I grew up with feathers
in my mouth. waded through
rubbish on the beach. ran through
laminated hallways. wrote christmas
wishlists down to my knees and
home was never that simple.
we’d tried to transplant a memory.
a vision of another world.
red and gold. old and new.
we wanted halloween and chinese new year.
pressing lucky money like it was just
a game and we could all be winners.
and everything was clean and bright.
maids sweeping the marble floors,
living in sweltering storerooms.
fan jittering. air con haze.
I grew up with feathers in my mouth,
lived in a make-believe city.
treated life like a build-your-own-history.
blue skies were reserved for the best
of our days and I was foreign in
what could have been
home. returned home
and was foreign


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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