Death by Water
November 18, 2019. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
I/would rather/stay far away/from this campus besieged with percussion/the cries of our
brethren/black keys shaped as bodies/the pounding piano of copper/cold callous rubber the
red walls exploding/I snapped/a brick into two/put soil in my pocket/ just to feel/something
belong/freedom or death/what can I claim/and not say the words/of death notes tucked back
into bodies/here is the loaf I ate yesterday/the rest encrusted with maggots/a canteen melts
into/heaven for flies/last night/my eyes reached for/the slow trance of sleep/gloved fingers
kept it away/the soft lull of your lips/shattered again/a bullet threaded through bone/ the
crowds are not here yet today/there is a child in the stairwell/in the folds of a hose/trying to
shed off the blue/wrinkled skin of a snake/how does thirst work/when water is cruel/when
water is cluttered and burning/pain liquified/a stream of black wine/that runs from the shins
of the crawling/in time we shall learn/ to shift torsos through sewers/trudging through
dampness/limbs heavy like how/my mother begged me/to come home/救命，救命，
救命/I'm so thirsty/my fingers were reaching/for maggots/the sewer holds water/blue
water is water I pray/for a manhole some opening that leads/a carcass to life /my
stoppered dreams/a splash of you/ my love/new shells lie spent/like our bodies in bed/ the
cannons still spray/and there are words/I'd rather/say far away/in a future absolved from
burning water/now as freedom hides/from the swing of a searchlight/I drown in the thought
of your tongue
The Siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU): one of the most tumultuous events during the 2019 Hong Kong Protests, lasting for more than a week. PolyU, the university in Hung Hom, is a strategic spot next to the city’s major cross-harbour tunnel. Protestors, surrounded by one of the largest deployments of police officers the city has seen, were trapped with depleting and rotting food supplies and left without medical attention (as the police had arrested most first-aid providers entering the campus). Some protestors resorted to escaping through sewage pipes.
Blue Water: Refers to the blue-dyed water, mixed with pepper spray, used by Hong Kong Police in water cannons. This “crowd control measure” was prominently deployed against protestors in the 2019 Hong Kong Protests.
救命: Cantonese for “help”, or literally “save my life”.
Felix Chow Yue Ching is a Year 3 student at the University of Hong Kong, majoring in English Studies and Hong Kong Studies. He is the winner of the The HKBU Century Club Citywide English Poetry Competition 2020 and The Maisie Choa English Poetry Prize. His poems are published/forthcoming in Voice and Verse and CHA: An Asian Literary Journal. He is working as a student research assistant at CityU and is interested in Hong Kong and its representations in Hong Kong English-language writing, as well as emerging local identities reflected in local rap music. He hopes to pursue postgraduate studies. Forever a HongKonger.