Poetry / November 2009 (Issue 9)

Sai Ying Pun Sestina

by Kate Rogers

In every pause, a window frames meaning
finds me staring. Eggs cool, water runs in the sink.
In the alley, a blue quilted grandma bends low
to pick up porcelain shards under a banyan.
Brittle roots have cleaved stone:
that old wall, a forgotten boundary.

On this island, each glance reveals hidden boundaries.
Red shrines crouch low in doorways, guarding meaning.
Alleys layer the colony. Roots pry at stone.
Every black rain floods Sai ying pun’s blocked sink.
In summer, the air sweats and I sleep out under the banyan,
the blinking stars. On my roof the hesitant moon hangs low.

Sai bing gei leans into the mountain, bends men low
under gas bottles, over carts that know no boundary
so Mercedes climb slowly behind. Exhaust pools under the banyan,
shimmers a mirage. King’s College bursts open. Meaning
escapes uniformed boys in 7-11. The dai pai dong sinks
under their weight. The quilted grandma turns to stone.

Across from the park on Go gei the colonial façade is stone:
quarried as a hospital when China’s emperor bent backs low.
It is a school now, where sailors leave ash in the sink,
grapple with English, which still builds boundaries
here. Words push loads uphill, heavy with meaning.
Hong Kong U’s wedding cake melts under the banyan.

Canyons of tower blocks, a red brick university here under the banyan,
the splayed shade of palm trees. Georgian columns, mossy stone:
monumental. The tailor with his treadle Singer finds no meaning
there. His shop on the brow of the hill bends him low.
He taps his foot to the needle’s rhythm as stitches boundary
the cuffs of my jeans. He washes them, they stain the sink.

A gutter runs blue, past the stone grandma. The mountain sinks
into a green crouch as smog presses it under the banyan,
a sweating palm. Gritty air sticks to skin, that thin boundary.
Peels it away on my roof, as rain dissolves stone.
Dusk steals colour, stains the walls, crouched so low.
Erases characters on this page. Grey fingers scratch paper for meaning.

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All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.