Des Voeux Road West, Hong Kong

Des Voeux Road West never faced west,
only towards the other blocks opposite ours.

Each morning, my foot was met with a bunk-bed ladder
too slippery for
any human
who had slept through the sweatiness of night.

But, I’m convinced it wasn’t meant for human legs,
since each night the scurrying of thistly legs decorated the wooden floorboards, as a woosh of red went past us and


The tssst of cockroach repellent was a tune we knew well, a prayer song we’d sing each night to keep those sinful creatures away.

Each day, we, unwilling pilgrims, travelled by feet to the 6th floor or lok lok locked the door yet? We couldn’t – the handles had to be turned in opposite directions, so each afternoon shop meant sticky custard buns by the time entry was permitted.

When the buns had been bitten, and stories of the workday distributed with them, the Bunks craddled us to sleep and told us their their stories of

a better Hong Kong,

where agorabphobia trembled at us leaving the house, and police had vanished, so the fish-smelling,

Cantonese-yelling road lay ahead, just for us. And then we awoke at sunrise, with buildings lain before us,


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