Alison Wong's great-grandparents and grandparents migrated to New
Zealand from Guangdong province, China in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. Her son is half-Chinese half-Pakeha (NZ European).
She was the 2002 Robert Burns Fellow at Otago University. Her poetry was
selected for Best NZ Poems 2007 & Best NZ Poems 2006.
Alison's first collection of poetry Cup (2006, Steele Roberts) was shortlisted for the Jessie McKay NZSA Best First Book of Poetry at the 2007 Montana NZ Book Awards.
Her first novel will be published by Picador Australia and UK in 2009.
Nine year old, bedtime reading
You sit in bed and read to me
about pilots, students, children
vying for the world
record in paper plane flying.
I hold the newspaper
made golden by the bedside lamp
a two-person tent of light
sheltering us from the curtains
you wish were the colour of night.
We talk about resisting gravity and
the most elegant path through the air.
Like you, I say, resisting chocolate
and ice-cream and hot chips.
Can I have some? you ask, as if a parent’s
yielding is as inevitable as a paper plane
falling. We discuss aerodynamics,
lateral and longitudinal stability.
It’s all pushing water uphill
with a rake, says a retired physicist,
unless you make an airfoil shaped wing.
Perhaps the origins of the paper plane
lie with the Chinese, we read, but you
do not want to be Chinese.
Making a paper plane isn’t easy.
I kiss you and turn off the lamp.
Golden light falls from the air
curved like a wing.
Inspired by the article Flight Club by Julie Jacobson, The Dominion
Post, 6 April 2006.