exodus hong kong

xiao yue shan

close are those days we stayed past our welcome,

passing around raw peanuts, complaining 

about the heat, arms slung around one another’s waists

as if mere holding would be enough to starve  

the impetus of leaving. in the city that looks too much

like the one we left you continued to look stunned

for a moment after I said, struggling to hold on to 

a bag of broken apples, let’s go. decrepit buildings in

cracking pink shells, lights that closed and opened green

chasing dawn, here, our temporary holding, sitting 

around the kettle silver with sweat, glinting against 

the skins of midnight roads like oil paintings

left in the shadows. amongst those who ran from

the mainland holding books we compared copies

to determine the multiples, and ripped their pages

to lay between the cotton during winter. we all became

acquainted with the different tastes of hunger— 

paired alongside fear it took on the tang of metal,

and with exhaustion the gravity of dust. yet hong kong

remained the reprieve from a home that clotted

bad blood in the center of our bodies, beating 

like a second heart that continued its insistence

of running. the sense of never being far enough,

a heart that convinced us in our own beds

that this was just a place to sleep 

because it was too late to go home.

xiao yue shan is a poet and essayist born in china and residing in tokyo, japan. her website is shellyshan.com.