Dawn Lo,
excerpt from "Life Cycles"

Every year, Chinook salmon are introduced into the Don River. Though born within the confines of hatcheries, they are released for fishing purposes, but also in the hope that they will follow their natural life cycle and one day spawn in this river.

It is in their blood to return to the source.

We never lived as a family in Hong Kong, but my winters growing up were spent visiting my father’s parents’ home in an old public housing estate in Shek Kip Mei. As a kid, I kicked a ball around with my cousins in the open-air landing by the stairs, our uncles towering over us. The corridors lined with the grated fronts of cramped units were dark, but the sun shone bright in the landing. An airplane roared by overhead. We ran over to the chipped railing to look at it, zooming past so close it looked alive.

My father grew up seven-to-a-unit. A wily child, he played in courtyards between housing blocks, kept marbles he won in threadbare pockets, and, with ink and paper left over from homework, slashed out and pasted in his building corridor anti-British slogans he learned from going with his father to labour union meetings.

When a policeman showed up and found the vandal, he was stumped. How do you arrest a kid? Is it wrong to feel Chinese? My father’s mother pleaded with him, saying her son was only parroting what he had heard from gruff working men. He didn’t know what these phrases meant.

It turned out he did, maybe better than her.

Yet, in the fall of 1989, he and his wife decided to leave Hong Kong for good. Fearing the imminence of the Handover, they immigrated to Canada with me in tow.