Hong Kong 22 Years On

Her body is terrified, phrased in the shape that dodges a baton
the beatings that are bruising a generation, turning away from
the impact of the politics of rubber bullets—you’ll say when I say
and there’s no getting away from the blue paint spray if they’re
short on fists into hands into catchers.

She’s slender in the baby-pink
zipped-up fleece; it’s a petal containing her breath, falling from the bough
she lifts her chin black-in-the-mask, that even the scent of a flower
cannot breathe in; there’s panic inside the exhaled mist and the policeman
in his own yellow riot—stops—to outstretch his arms about her catchless frailty
that even he dare not touch.


Helen Pletts: (www.helenpletts.com) (Threads/Instagram@helen.pletts) Word & Image by Pletts & Berger with illustrator Romit Berger. Helen’s poetry was shortlisted 4 times for Bridport Poetry Prize 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023, twice longlisted for The Rialto Nature & Place Competition 2018 and 2022, longlisted for the Ginkgo Prize 2019, longlisted for The National Poetry Competition 2022. She was 2nd prize winner, The Plaza Prose Poetry Prize 2022-2023.

Romit Berger: “I am a graphic designer. I met my very dear friend, Helen Pletts, in Prague, several years ago. Helen’s inspiration has led my graphic design career into that magical realm which combines illustration and poetry, and our creative wings continue to connect our souls through time and distance.”