Heather H. Yeung

Heather H. Yeung - Photo Ingrid Apaydin

Heather H. Yeung is a critic, poet, and artist book maker, currently hailing from Scotland. An archive of her artists book works is held in the Scottish Poetry Library.

Archipelago – the islands of the sea; the sea which connects the islands; the sea, the sky; and on clear days that blue… – this poet hails from two such places: the archipelago of Orkney, the Hong-Kong archipelago. Different latitudes, different longitudes, different climates. But perhaps it does make sense that this poet should come at some point to the origin point of the archipelagic imaginary – the blue of the Mediterranean – remain there for quite some time, and (often) return, and (often) remember ‘island-hopping’ and looking across the blue sea-borders there.

“Forcefire :: Naufrages” is an excerpt from a long poetic sequence currently in progress, Archipelago.


Forcefire :: Naufrages
             (An t-Samhain, 2021)

… e la speranza ebbe nuova luce

Such fall
can be enough
to confuse perception. Once only
one group of voices or waymarkers
wrote in code wishes for an aegis,
wrote thoughts of beginnings or singularities
as shipwreck, that all greatness or illumination begins
with a boat,
               its metaphor,

                              (for those with that quill in hand, Sirius raves
                              did you even hear of that greatblending moment
                              in the wrong sky, and ainsi
                              qu’on fait partout naufrage dans un ruisseau… quoi ?

                                             a setting out
                                                            with little attention to darknesses
crashing between. They         judged
                                                                           codes to airfurled ashes as if wishes
might take life from thought dashing a sky with gold
                                                            dashing what wreck there was to what shore was there –

                                             an aegis if only they knew how to look and

the ritual danger disappearance wished would enforce
               what was          considered truthmaking meaning or method or mode
               which was        neither truth nor true meaning nor method nor singular

                                             İlyas and Hızır cough
                                             they are deserted here as
                                             the year has turned as usual
                                             they look askance
                                             at such poorly hidden wishes and gold
                                             thrown amongst the late colchicums,
                                             roses, so different
                                             from their fine shoots
                                             their spring dust aside scant rivulets,
                                             they wonder or ask
                                             at the interruption of the dyad
                                             by the season or this
                                             old fair idyll of needfire)

Water rising interrupts
                              I begin to hear in gullwhite flashes
                              high laughter at the particularity of the wreckwork
               the wings will always work, do not precipitate philosophical failure
                                                                                                                                       in polyphony
commentary truer to my own and
hover adrift
and shifting with the mist look up

               ( and yes you cannot hear or write
               but see only the fireflies
               whose disappearance has stung like teargas
               on all but this night when we speir for them
               through haar’s glimlightening and there –

                                             It is this, then               to possess finally the right of way
                                                                        or to be islanded again
                                             if only for the moments we know this island,
                              if only for the moments forcefire’s benediction and border
               lasts, our time tethered to the thin moment
of a world before an after

                                                                                       and yes here –

                                                                                                                                       in praise
of the expected Samhain topologies

when the haar
rolls in, the bonds
holding space become
its dimmer borders and colour
though watery atmospheres refracts
stranger shapes, limb tangled in limb,
in frictive warmth       or is it some form of particular light
                                             familiar only as lunulae

                                                                                             and all auguries
                              blessed to fire by sleeptrails native to this space
                              or shipwreck your starting point (or was it
               ‘ship’) is perhaps forgotten
and when in any case more ingredients
for this counterpoint were necessary

                                             viz. ‘patience’             (and all associated sayings)
                                                                                       for the right winds, for the upheaval of departure

] ερον ἰξο[μ

                                                                                       for what stars are still visible through the heavengiven
                                             mists to show what planned passage might be, or, if no passage
                                             is planned (for this can, too, be intent) that its route
                                             skyharp swiftshifting be happed in a new light

necessary too a stemming
of an impulse to not delay

                                             refuse blood sacrifice but allow for libations
                                             holdfast against those who minister to jealous gods
                                             never run on this night with the hunt of such gods
                                             remember but do not fetishise your roots and if you know
                                             yourself enough be equipped to move on the searoutes
                                             in wildness to stray from those first-inscribed wish-coded paths

this stream of thought
               planted by impulse
                                                                                                 here –
the heart or breath in suspended function; woods stream
what is never lux aeterna and mosses glim
in this softness which is no practicable isthmus (as with
the trade-winds we do not wait on this
night or island)

the boat (metaphor) that was long ago wrecked on the shoals
of the island (indeterminate) as fuel, flare, petition
of non disturbance, of lightning, and those old resonances
or instructions for assembly

                              to think of you                              or
                              to think then again                     of you

] ὄ] σσοις φαέθων

                                                                                            in gold
                              and of course the hesitation –
                                             the possible –
                                                            scant refractions of       your dialectical shift (disaster)
                                                                                                             or freedom (astral)
                                                                                                             or fatalism (this
               breath caught over a precipice

                                                            not silted through
memories of desert sand, nor towers, nor lighthouses,
nor bombardments, nor sherded masses, nor satellites where
somewhere else those things continue to blink
somewhere else the wild hunt continues
and the feis of the turning year continues
and the moon draws waterways in new directions
and all other forms of bewitching

ποικίλλεται μὲν
γαῖα πολυστέφανος [

betwixt which we
in this wooded semicircle whose bounds not visible burn

                                             what it is to fall in the moment through to the thin places
                              forgetting the other bodies wrecked on the strand and even
                              their names (your own the first); for them the island is necessary
                              but for you the ways between are a resting place
                              in which the daylight holds colour differently,
                              and time, and

and in swiftseconds clear, astray and
held only before the island
disappears, after the old
firewood burns out
its protection, precipitate to which we

                                                            speech divested
                                             before the soul

will        move     overwinter in climes more          habitual

                                                            blushing an old-gold of safran
                                                                                                                               – or –
                                                            blinking away the dust of the fireflies

               return where                                              a solitary feather


and is


For other contributions by Heather H. Yeung, please follow the link below:

Poetry in this post: © Heather H. Yeung
Photo by Ingrid Apaydin
Published with the permission of Heather H. Yeung