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Tammy Ho  is a Hong Kong-born writer and editor. She is a co-founder of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the marketing director of Fleeting Books, and an editor of the academic journal, Victorian Network. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times and the Forward Prize. She currently teaches literature at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Tiny Scissors | Scribbling in Moleskines


Tiny Scissors
Her tiny scissors, sharpened in the morning,
were dull again by the time
she acted hostess and set two mahjong tables,
side by side, in her cramped living room.
Like her mother before her, she used
the scissors to cut food into small pieces.
Toothless, gum eroded like seaside rocks,
eating was not enjoyed, only endured.
She never learnt Cantonese, despite
living in Hong Kong most her life.
She held the belief that Hakka, if uttered slowly,
would be universally understood.
Her eldest granddaughter, I was the one
for whom nothing was misunderstood.
In the last week, she gave me her scissors,
and reminded me that I, too, would be toothless.


Scribbling in Moleskines

He said he is autistically practical at times.
in response to a one-time fantasy of ours (of mine?)
to make our own Moleskines. To gift friends.
To record quixotic good doings and sins.

He said he would need to buy quite a few tools.
And high-quality paper, string, leather, glue.
I was only envisioning the final product: pretty
notebooks custom-made to our liking.

I hadn't thought it through, of course, and wondered:
How difficult could it be? We had got a manual
with clear instructions. Plus, we are smart people.
Nothing is too flamboyant, nothing too hard.

Instead, I imagined the things he might scribble:
harmless lies he tells to evade embarrassing situations.
Past crushes. Aborted grandiose ideas for conventional novels.
Entries of frustration, undated but memorised,
of having to meet my whims and unreasonable demands.

What would I write? New phrases he teaches me.
Titles of movies we've seen. Accidentally romantic things
he says that I can one day appropriate in my writing.
Notes for inconsequential love poems, coy, completely
non-practical, utterly non-pragmatic, just for him.