by Boris But
A rickety wagon carries the treasures of obsolescence.
The old man's trinket braidings and black-bauble budlings
bob in subdued delight. He drags his home along
the bumpy bridges, neither here nor there, to
comb for lost things and things lost. The rust-brown wheels
ache to a coughing halt as he eases his leathery hands into the
orange can and scours for forgotten gold between
empty Carlsberg cans and cigarette stubs, his age-folded back
creaking from the familiar weight of his wagon. He rolls
back his carefully cropped sleeves and peers through
greasy glasses, his old eyes darting in alert attention,
only to be left with a familiar, familiar nothing.
From my ivory tower, I look down to the city gutter.
My bed-ridden head bowed, in silence, for him.
This is a finalist in Cha's "Hong Kong" Poetry Contest. Boris But on "Forgotten Gold":
"Forgotten Gold" depicts a familiar scene in Hong Kong: old gentlemen and ladies hauling towering carts of cardboard and plastic sacks chock-full of soda cans. Such an encounter leaves me with a sense of awe and empathy at both their strength and physical frailty, especially the way they carry themselves with a soft dignity, borne from decades of unimaginable hardship. Yet I remain a mere purveyor of the city gutter from my ivory tower, preferring a voyeuristic look into this oft-forgotten snippet of their world. My poem is decidedly honest and ironic, tinged with my own cowardice for the whole city to see, or to forget. [Read Jason Eng Hun Lee's commentary on "Forgotten Gold"
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