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Central Pier 4

By Helen Bowell

From the boat, you point out

the home your parents built


rising through the trees.

Look now. It’s only visible


from this exact point –

then the ferry motors on.


Today the sea is rough.

It thumps as if a shark’s


beating the hull.

Still, you trust in this ferry,


your means between the islands

you’ve always called home.


While you put down roots in England,

on Hong Kong Island blocks of flats


shot up like bamboo. Now

floating home on the night crossing,


these cloud-kissing towers

can be read like columns


in a paper, each living room light

a Chinese character.


But you’ve been away so long, 阿媽,  

perhaps tonight you feel illiterate.


When a voice says disembark,

you clamber up and look around


as if anxious not to leave

anything else behind.

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