In the old days everyone there knew
how to make ice lanterns: filling
the barrels with water from Songhua
and leaving the blocks to freeze.
They lit and hung the lanterns outside houses.
But as time passed they grew
more ambitious with their craft:
to carve a dragon’s whiskers and scales;
a lotus pavilion, goddess kwan yin,
and the Great Wall of China
for the brave-hearted.
Look at the children laughing
and skating away.
The crystal palace beckons to you.
You remember how far
this water has travelled.
The amusement won’t last.

a photo of Jennifer Wong

About the Author

Jennifer Wong is a Chinese poet and translator from Hong Kong. Her poetry collections comprise Summer Cicadas (Chameleon P) and Goldfish. Her poems have appeared in many journals, and in anthologies such as The Oxfam Anthology of Young British Poets (Cinnamon P) and World Record: An Anthology (Bloodaxe Books). She has worked for Magma Poetry and last year, she took part in the Poetry Parnassus Festival and the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.