An emerald field in Jersey –
——————————–sunlight, birdsong, the solid presence of trees.
My mother, her black mist of hair. Softly, softly, she speaks. Her face delicate as cherry blossom.
Wild ponies chew the grass,
——————————–my mother holds my three-year-old self in her arms.
We are part of each other. I want to be like my mother, never separate in our attachment.
We murmur to each other in Cantonese, we approach the ponies and she kneels to bring me closer to them.
I am so afraid – such huge, handsome creatures. I bury my face in her chest and can’t look at them.
The sky is so blue, there are no clouds but the wind blows.
I am losing my mother tongue, I cannot tell my mother how I fear the animals, I sense their tempestuousness, their untamed natures, how they can’t be controlled –
the splitting of myself ———————into two halves.
My Chinese self floats off into the ether like a brightly coloured kite, tethered to nothing
and no one. My English self is speechless, can’t articulate itself to my Chinese mother.
All around me, fear and beauty descend like petals, blown away to places I do not know yet
– to Hong Kong, to China.
The ponies rear up, their lurid manes tussle with the wind.
‘Ma Ma’, I said. The sound of this word in Cantonese means both mother and horse depending on its tone. Did I say it the right way?
Horses are such auspicious animals in Chinese mythology. In The Book of Changes, a horse symbolises heaven, a king, the father.
Horse, gallop across the battlefield. Longma – dragon-horse, Tianma – heavenly horse.
And I fall, I fall into the emerald fire.
Jennifer Lee Tsai reads Wild Ponies