Two Poems by Cheng Tim Tim


The Sand I Stand On Is Not My Own

Measure the ways continents reshape:
by tonnes, by months, by artificial islands.
Colossal, metal serpents dredge and suck
mussels and coral reefs in a bubbly slurry.
Blazed riverbeds end in mud puddles.
Coasts recede. Graveyards regurgitate bones
by the shore as vessels bob, spitting curves
of dirt stolen, smuggled and sold from nations
to nations for a nation of proud promises
that break the ones in existence. The sand
I stand on is not my own but a congregation
of distances. Where my room now is, there
was none. But I still take it, nothing strategic,
the way dead things settle in sediments.

Beginner’s Wall, Shek O

Big waves lick boulders above sea level. A typhoon
brought salt, now dusty, over volcanic cliffs
where we sit now. We pick up small graphite pieces,
trailing our spot to prove their colouration.
I lie like seaweed drying for consumption, arms
stretched next to my ears, and stare at the sky
wide open with a huge helping of sun, seamless
with the sea, a gradient of indigo and turquoise
where glinting belts of sand and foam intersperse.
If you look hard enough, waves from afar carries
the same incessant gouges as woodblock prints.

A challenge I can’t take without liquid courage:
Rock-climbers set up ropes, check harnesses
and helmets for each other. They have to trust
their body weight with muscle strength and grip,
sometimes giving in to gravity for rest
by letting hips sink onto an invisible chair midair.
Their partner on the ground look up
for commands. Tension! Tension! The language
one cares to learn facing speechless crags.
The wind growls, indiscriminate to recent histories
of secret survival out of battered red-brick walls.

About the Author

Cheng Tim Tim is a secondary school teacher from Hong Kong. Aside from an essay on food memory in relation to Hong Kong’s politics, she is also working on poetry chapbooks on the topics of tattooing, family relationship and the cultural life in Hong Kong. Her poems have been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cicada, The Offing, SAND Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, among others. She is one of the co-founding editors of EDGE: HKBU Creative Journal. She believes in music that heals and provokes.


Detail from Meckl Antal: Hong Kong Beach, 2019 (Unsplash)

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