Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sun Lung Wai

Sun Lung Wai

Outside my kitchen window wave smooth banana leaves
large with heat, perfect in green
shading a stone shack next to a garden.
It’s a woman’s plot—insistent styrofoam boxes,
choy and chives, ginger and herbs.
They linger and wilt in heat and neglect.

A daughter—worth ascribed by sons
a paper deed blank married off,
tradition dried, peeled, and preserved.
Her obedience, her acquiescence
bitter, tough, and chewy
swallowed decades ago.
She stakes her son’s land:
bamboo sticks and pink plastic twine.
She guards his birthright—
a steel face, a sour mouth, a wave of the hand.

Her old man son drools, babbles in the village square
dodders up the path, wades through mud puddles.
He relieves himself in the shack,
prods snakes and demons under trash, tin, and leaves,
stares at the stream, searching, searching—
fish and memories, frogs and purpose.
A mint clothespin hangs from his ear.
Hollow cheeks, flat sunken eyes. a mouth with no teeth.
He murmurs to the wind, yells at the spirits.
My son sees him, trembles, and cries.
My explanation fails: a head missing pieces,
a wound of the mind, a sickness that will not go away.

Mother and son move across the land
arms length, equidistant from their home,
a point in time, a perfect isosceles
bound by an invisible line.
In the beginning, a son!
It was all that mattered.
A baby bound to a mother’s back.
Hate, love, fatigue, tenderness
the sorrow of madness, the loyalty of blood.

He shuffles past rusty bikes
plants, plastic pieces, pots and pails.
Inside the TV’s on: he moves close.
A row of women in swimwear.
Music, applause, colored lights.
Transfixed: It’s “America’s Next Top Model.”

Outside the mother fingers a lemon tree’s gnarled bark.
Yellow has never burst from these withered branches.
She picks green fruit that will never ripen—sells them for coins.
Split and open, put on icebox shelves for their faint scent
her profit and possession.
This tree is hers, to protect and watch,
for him, her son,
heir to this land.

Copyright 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Afghan Women's Writing Project

RSI flares up.

But this site must be seen, this poem read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ye Olde Blog and RSI

Given RSI flare-up (think: carpal tunnel, but not as bad...) I am temporarily halting ye olde blog...

Should someone need to contact me--try this address:, or better yet, give a shout.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Role Playing

Various scenes are re-enacted in the bathtub by Keohi. These are two of the popular ones:

Picking up Poo Poo

I bought Keohi gloves to use in the bath, figured that they would allow him to was more easily than with a washcloth. They are neon purple, scratchy and made of synthetic material. He tells me, "Do a poo poo, Mommy."
"Do a poo poo, so I can pick it up with my poo poo gloves like Habi (his nickname for grandpa--my dad) does for Pico."
"I don't have to do a poo poo." I am trying not to laugh, but this is pretty funny. He is dead serious.
"When Pico (the Pomeranian) does a poo poo, Habi picks it up with poo poo gloves. Then, he throws it away. So I am going to pick up your poo poo. So do one!"
"Mommy does not have to do a poo poo."
"If you do one, I have poo poo gloves, " he reassures me.

Tom the Mui Wo cafe owner (very popular role play)

Usually one of us must be Keohi (usually me) and the other is Tom. Tom owns the cafe on Mui Wo's waterfront. It's where we go in Mui Wo to get an English breakfast (sausage, beans, eggs, bacon, tomato, mushroom, toast) and a latte.

"Okay, you're Keohi. Ask for a milk foam," he says placing bubbles in a plastic glass.
"I'm Tom. Ask me for one."
"May I have a milk foam, Tom, please?"
"Sure, Keohi. One second." Now he makes the sounds of an espresso machine. He hands me a small plastic glass filled with bubbles. "Here you go."
"Thanks, Tom."
"Do you need, maybe a full breakfast too?"
"I'm fine, Tom. No thanks."
"What about a ham and cheese toastie? Do you need sugar with that milk foam?"
"No sugar."

We do tons of role playing at the house. It's interesting to note how easily children slot into these scenarios and the extent of the unharnessed imagination. It's very intense, the level of observation and the extent to which dialogue, action, entire scenes go on and on. He can do this for hours. Sometimes he limps and pretends he's the picture of the woman he saw who ran with one wire leg. Often he's a character from a book--The Tin Soldier, or Ping, the little boy who tries to grow a plant for the Emperor, from the Empty Pot, then there's Captain Joe from When it Rains, or the Wicked Uncle from the Magic Carpet. He's the kid doing karate from There Are Monsters Everywhere, he's the small pig Owen from I Love You All Day Long, an infinite number of characters--so many stories. Sometimes he's Joshua, or he's the Nutcracker or Mowgli (which means I'm supposed to be Balloo). This is when you see, books are not simply books, they are tools of imagination--you can act out characters and scenes from books, invent more.

Sometimes, he's just Keohi, nurturing his stuffed animals. He says, "These are my babies" and carefully wraps them in a blanket and gently puts them in different places. Sometimes he's an inanimate object, like a boat, he bumps his head against me and says, "I'm the boat, you're the pier. This is me, the boat." Then there's the usual preoccupation with what he sees around him "worker men" -- and he pretends he's building something, "sailor men" and he puts on gloves and pulls the rope--or he's a policeman or fireman. There is the doctor/patient scenario. (I'm supposed to protest getting a shot, and then be promised an ice cream cone afterwards. He gets to poke me with much enthusiasm and order me to breathe and stick out my tongue etc...) We also do patient/dentist. This involves lots of aaahing and sticking out the tongue and discussing teeth and spitting.

Then there are some favorites from the movies -- he is the dentist from 'Finding Nemo' in a scuba diving outfit (Scuba Man, as he calls it) and chases someone around who is a fish (Nemo). He seems to like to identify with the powerful omnipotent characters, not the nice fluffy protagonist. This blows me away as I never identified with the types of characters that he does. From the Kung Fu Panda film, he likes being the Snow Leopard and says he's going to get someone and kind of jumps around. From the Beatrix Potter tales, he spreads out a roll of toilet paper and pretends to be the old man tailor cutting silk. "My cherry colored twisted silk," he says. And lately, from Ice Age, he's the shark or the mammoth. We've been doing weekly weekend movie nights on Saturday--it's clearly made an impression. (I should add, given my feelings about screen time and children, not always for the better. It seems to have upped his level of physical play, not always a bad thing, but usually the even unfolds with him doing some aggressive jumping and landing and kicking or punching without a perceived consequence of the action (as there rarely are in the films) ...and 36 pounds of this is not so fun on one's head)

So when is it that we start to believe we cannot imagine? That we can no longer act out and pretend?

Keohi's playing reminded me of being a little girl in Queens. Two little girls came across the street and we would play witches, pretending to tie each other up and make pretend fires, and pretend to roast fingers. Victims and aggressors. All play...

So we do a lot of play acting around the house and the one that makes me laugh now is the one where I am supposed to be the kid, Keohi, and Keohi gets to be Mommy or Daddy. Parts of this we've done so many times...

"No, no ice cream for you, " he says wagging his finger.
"Please, Mommy?"
"No. I said, NO," says Keohi. "You already had some. You are fine."
"What about a small amount," I say. "Just a little. Just one more scoop!"
"Okay, just a little. But you have to brush your teeth. Because if you don't, you will get lots of bacteria. And then you will have holes in your teeth and they will become all brown and your incisors will be rotten. Your molars. Then, then you will have to go to the dentist. So brush your teeth, okay?" (This is also from the dental book...)
"Okay, I say."
"You can have some ice cream. But no gum, no candy. No junk food doughnuts."
"Can I have some spinach?"
"Yes, you can have some spinach. OK."
"Okay," I say, "Now you be Keohi. I"m the mommy."
"Okay," says Keohi. "When I'm 12, I can eat candy."
"Yes," I say.
"And when I'm 18 I can have a coca-cola," he says. "Coke is bad for you. Except Grandma drinks coke. But coke is not healthy for your bones."
"Yes. But do you see Mommy drink it?"
"No," says Keohi. "I can drink beer when I'm 25."
"How old are you when you can ride a motorbike?" he knows this. We've talked about it so many times. Oh, how he loves motorbikes.
"30. When I'm 30, I can ride a motorbike," he says.

He's 3 and I cannot imagine him being 30, but I know it will be here faster than I can possibly imagine. Keohi's birth I view as a new beginning for my own self, but with it came the acute realization of mortality...with every day that he grows stronger and bigger comes the knowledge that my own body is dying. Slowly to be sure, and yes, there is much before me, but it is no longer the same...