Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

A Postgraduate Gender Class Almost Drowning a Miss Hong Kong Contestant

A Postgraduate Gender Class Almost Drowning a Miss Hong Kong Contestant

By Kwai-Cheung Lo

In the space between wave after wave,
I am actually not a confident surfer.
At best, I am but searching for gender in murky waters,
sometimes, failing and apologizing, I reorient myself,
breathing feeble bubbles of air against the ferocious tides;
at times, riding on the giant of a wave, I claim credit for its colossal height.
When the furious waters compress men and women, male and female,
into the gender limits of one boat,
the last order in the turmoil,
women wish this were the Titanic
so that men would sink for them forever…
the choice of being female would descend deep into the ocean,
into species of fish hiding their hermaphrodite sexuality—
when females are too many, too loud, they can automatically switch their gender
to continue their love lives.
In the high winds and rapid currents of the class, I had not yet seen clearly who was drowning who
was saved before I saw in the newspapers a female student among them
had climbed onto the yonder shore using means as yet unknown
to walk into an inland city far away from the water;
her diving suit had long fallen off her body,
scraped clean of the fish scales from her not-quite-complete metamorphosis;
facing the media in her still wet awkwardness,
she said, If I don’t venture into the Mainland, who will?
Honestly, the rhythm of my voice can never mask
the mobile summons you sent from shore—
even dried fish
walking into a crowd will naturally
grow hairy legs to fly.

Translated by Agnes S. L. Lam


a photo of Kwai-Cheung Lo

Kwai-Cheung Lo is a director of the Creative and Professional Writing Program at Hong Kong Baptist University, as well as a professor. He is the author of Excess and Masculinity in Asian Cultural Productions (State U of New York P), and Chinese Face / off: The Transnational Popular Culture of Hong Kong (U of Illinois P). His academic articles have appeared in Camera Obscura, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Postcolonial Studies, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, and elsewhere. A creative writer in Chinese, his Chinese publications include short stories, poems, interviews, play scripts, and cultural and literary criticism. He is currently working on a book on ethnic minority cinema in China.

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