Tonight, two nights after the full moon,
As quiet ebbs and flows whisper at my feet,
The cadences of half-remembered tunes coalesce downwind
With eulogies to mid-Autumn—
The melodies muted or muffled,
As if they had been sung
In a distant monsoon dream:
Stanley! The evening is young!
Stanley! The seclusion is its soul!
Stanley! The horizon hosted by hills!
Stanley! The indigo sadness, elaborate tonight, with hope!
Stanley – the mirth of Marina in my bleary eyes –
On whose deep-strung sand,
Shimmering light from a misty-eyed moon
Sing in sprung rhythm of sunnier days.
Loyal to city roads, the head puts Stanley
Off the heart of Hong Kong;
But the blackened rocks and the blanched barbeque pits
Breathe tales of loud songs and pregnant silences,
About a heart which draws in and lets out
The colour and chaos that is Kowloon.
For, even as the mind divides
Ingress from egress,
The heart, though beating, seems still;
As the raucous music, the strident songs, the silent syllables,
And the blurring boundaries
Of a slit city that fleets like a mirage and feels like a mirror
Find a solemn voice in the swells,
Which touch a desolate slice of salt-laden water's edge;
Whose secrets, when sad, are anything save its own;
Whose secrets when sublime, Time's tirades bemoan.
Poet's Note: I wrote this poem in 2012 after a visit to the Stanley Beach in Hong Kong. While writing it, I took a lot of inspiration from Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, one of my favourite poems