Postcard from Edinburgh

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I.

As the bus turns left from the East end of Princes Street, a macabre scene bleeds into one’s periphery like an incoming raincloud. The passengers look up out of the blindness of their touch-screens and crane their necks by the window-glass.

It can’t be. He was immortal…

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The Temple

Two boys in a café
talking about how much they mean to each other.

They are in the cavern of their eyes,
on another planet, underground,
-water, -mantle.

Their heartbeats prance around like the voices of bats.

Inside, they’ve built a temple
to which they return
whenever they have had enough
of the big city lights, and the burn
of glassy shopfronts.

They inhabit the temple.

No. They are the temple.

The roof, the marriage of their ribcages,
the leg and arm bones the columns;
the space below filled with their loving
stretches, every day, into new dimensions.

No need for quantity; deeper than quality.
All they need is amity, loyalty, sanctity,
which are as gold as they are silent.

The temple is strong and brave.
One sees chips in the paint and mould in the wood.

The boys once hurled hot acid at the ceiling and walls
but the temple remained. It stood.
It would only fall if they ran out of blood.

The temple is alive and lit by torches
but people walk by and ignore it.
All the better for the boys.
Nobody enters, nobody knows.

At most, some peer through the frosted glass
to squint and sniff: nobody

but a cave, stuffed with treasures
picked up from a nomadic journey:
in-jokes, daisy-chains, pearls of kinship.

The boys choose the Gods and the statues of worship.
Today it’s fruit pastels, cult movies, champion boxing moves.

Stick them all over, roll out the glow-in-the-dark starry wallpaper.
Make a den in the corner with pillows and downy duvets.

The boys can be scared around other people.
They don’t like people knowing they’ve a place of hiding.
Their bodily building. The temple.

People will see us transform
from flesh and human form
into the bricks and stones
of Pandora’s palace.
Our home, majestic. Warm.

The boys lock eyes; they disappear.

All that is left is granite, sun and drought,
and a bulletproof doll-house.

27 days

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I remember when the word University looked like a big mountain and

I
was
a
wee
pebble.

I remember when you shouted me into doing this degree after looking at all the Linguistics books I’d borrowed from the Central Library in Edinburgh.

I remember emancipation from music school, a place that flung me into the sky, to blissful, heavenly heights, and threw me back down onto the ground.

I remember how desperate I was to break away from school and everything I used to do, to the point where I was convinced – encouraged to believe – and not entirely by my own hand, that I should change my image and even my own name, for the second time; because having an unusual Chinese name would be an oral obstacle to professional networking and to becoming a success.

I remember during the summer before the great move I had researched, extensively, all the societies I considered joining, even emailing some of them in advance in order to indicate and validate my existence as an enthusiastic, energised new student ready to make her mark in the student community and all that yada-yada.

I remember the day I moved out of home. We packed many, many bags into the car. I had curled my hair with rollers the previous night and my locks had scooped into curls that bounced like the dancers in the flirty fifties. I remember picking utensils from the kitchen in the old house; we were very selective of the number of knives, forks, chopsticks, plates and bowls. My spatula was made of pink rubber with a stainless steel handle. The chopping board was grass green. Continue reading

Word studies / excerpts

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16 October 2016

Sunday morning. Look out beyond your bedroom door. Celebrate the sunlight humming along the silent corridors and the caress of your blood floating back to room temperature.


7 January 2017

pro cra sti na tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-|
noun

The process of swallowing an abnormally large tablet. A deeply uncomfortable experience regardless of its nutritional content and proven long-term benefits. Positive effects include (but are not confined to): rays of sunshine, drops of oil to your joints, strengthened muscles. However, such accounts have little bearing on one’s decision to actually and willingly accept the giant particle. Subjects are warned to expect a dark, prolonged sense of dread right up until the relaxation of the tongue muscles, a period which can last from 10 seconds to even 1 month or more.

The task – allowing this pebble creep down your throat and grind against your windpipe – is not to be underestimated.


2 February 2017

The most beautiful thing I saw turning left onto Russell Square, was an overweight blue rubbish truck as beaten and bruised and triumphant as a gladiator.


3 February 2017

Today I feel the filth of London and the gritty woes of its people enter my lungs, drying the moistness at the back of my throat, as if I’m inhaling the excrements of dust mites and vacuum cleaners in a windowless room.


A Letter from Strasbourg

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I want to congeal in a glass case a piece of paralysed Time. In this Time, I will freeze more time, and continue diving into its heart to unearth more sparkling seconds. I want to keep all the milliseconds of taste, emotion and movement, to preserve textures, smells, the angles of the cobbled streets and to dance the rise and fall of the road ahead.

Looking at this glass, admiring it like my own little taxidermic creature, I’d also like to glitter it with something called Joy and Freedom, which I’d describe as a warm weightlessness that overcomes me when I grasp the rhythmic, tonal complexity of a perfectly pronounced French word, fluid and honest in its execution, watch it grace my mouth and tongue and transport a fragment of ‘me’ into the atmosphere that will, at last, be understood and appreciated. Or when the humour and sweetness of friends combines with the delights of French food, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet and a fruity coffee. Or when, on the way to class, you suddenly can’t help but stand up on the pedals of your bike and sing to yourself, and imagine the old bicycle wheels spinning in a stereo like a cassette tape. Continue reading