P.K.’s Strange Tales 也斯聊齋

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Leung Ping-kwan 梁秉鈞 was a prominent Hong Kong poet and essayist, better known in his home city as Yah-see 也斯, Yesi in Mandarin. To most of his friends he was simply ‘P.K.’, an abbreviation for pak-gai 撲街 in Cantonese, literally ‘hit the street’, or ‘fuck off’.

These are two of a number of poems written by P.K. in 1999, inspired by a reading of the classic early eighteenth-century collection Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling.

For years I had been urging P.K. to re-read these stories, as I was convinced that he would find them to his taste, more ‘magically real’ than much of the South American fiction he had been so close to all his life.

— John Minford

Further Reading


Painted Skin

Are you a fair maiden wandering alone
Or a foul ghoul clad in human skin?

I love the way you use your coloured brush to create your form.
Is it the sheer painted beauty of your face that enchants me? I’ll never know.

Sometimes I seem to detect the tiniest flaws in you but then they vanish.
Perhaps enchantment refuses to see into the cracks in things.

I pity you in your bitter solitude, I hold you in my arms, warm you till you wake.
You smile, raising your brows, your eyes glisten, as if you are calling from afar.

When you leave, I still seem to see you
Changing into a host of apparitions, things I’d rather not see.

When you return, you’re a different woman.
Are you the woman I love? Am I the man you love?

Your gentle hands soothe the pain in my chest.
Or are you just hungry and want to eat my heart?

You say you love me. Now that my chest has been cut open and emptied
you’ll cross a myriad mountains and rivers to get it all back.

From another’s throat, vilest phlegm, transformed pain,
Through love becomes a new hot throbbing heart.

Or do you just want another pretty painted face?
Do you want to wander forever betwixt light and shade?

With the pain of this incision, will we understand each other better?
Please forgive my confusion for asking such foolish questions about love.

***

畫皮

到底是孤身獨行的艷麗佳人
還是一頭猙獰厲鬼披上人皮?

愛你手執彩筆繪畫出自己的形狀
永不知道迷戀的可是敷粉的朱顏?

有時好似看見絲絲破綻轉眼又不見了
也許沉迷的視線不願看進事物的隙縫

憐你孤苦擁你入懷溫暖你待你醒轉
巧笑揚眉眼波流轉你似要呼應遠方

當你離開眼前我彷彿又看見你
變幻成許多我不願見到的形象

你回來了你好似是另一個人
我愛的是你嗎你愛的是我嗎?

你輕忽的手擱我胸膛上要安慰我
還是餓了想要咀嚼我的心肺充饑?

你說愛我若我被剖腹掏走了一切
可會為我經歷萬水千山從頭收拾

那離腔帶痛化為污穢的痰涎
經愛猶會熱騰騰跳躍的一顆

人心?抑或你更喜歡一副彩繪的
人皮?在無盡飄忽的光影上徘徊

經歷切膚的傷害我們更明白彼此麼?
原諒我恍惚的心事對愛情問的傻問題


The Girl in Green

I’m reading in the temple.

I dip my brush in the ink to write,
And seem to hear a lilting voice.

You call to me from outside the window,
All dressed in green, in your long skirt.

A cool clean breeze comes fluttering to my side.

You’re not afraid to spoil your pretty embroidered shoes,
You just want to keep me company.

Your little feet alight gently on the bed,
You sing a new song,
Your voice soft as drifting silk,
Sweet and meandering,
Tugging at my ears, moving my heart,
Sidling up against me. But why
These restless doubts, these lingering fears?
Why do you feel
That a heart moved must surely bring misfortune?

I follow you out of the door,
Watch you turn into the cloister,
Leaving behind you a calm breeze.

Will I ever see you again?

Then suddenly I hear
A heart-rending cry:

I run to find
A green hornet trapped
In a huge spider’s web.

I bring you back to my desk,
Unravel the web,
Watch you come back to life again,
Between pen and ink,
Watch you clamber into the hollow of my ink-stone,
Haul yourself down into the ink,
Crawl back out, dragging your fragile body
Across the white page,
To write me a single word,
Then spread your wings.

And fly away.

***

綠蜂

我在寺內讀書
舉筆蘸墨寫字
似有婉妙聲音
你從窗外喚我
綠衣長裙掀起
一陣綠色清風
翩然來到身旁
不怕沾濕繡鞋
只為來陪伴我

你的纖足輕點
依床唱出新歌
聲音細如游絲
卻又婉轉纏繞
牽著耳動了心
靠著我為甚麼
還有不息疑懼
為甚麼你覺得
心動帶來災禍

我送你出房門
看你轉過房廊
只剩靜寂的風
還會再見你嗎
直至忽然聽見
淒急的呼叫聲
奔跑去尋見了
巨大蜘蛛網纏繞
奄然可憐青蜂

把你帶回案頭
解清纏縛看你
筆墨之間復蘇
看你登上硯池
投身沫入墨汁
走入空白紙上
移動纖小身體
給我寫一個字
展翼穿窗飛去