Laurence Li: What Is Coming Now, What Beast
Again, bikes wash down the street
Haltingly, orange-and-yellow gnats. This
Was the temple’s promontory,
A circle of roads set around the tower.
Something sounds from the temple’s light.
What is coming now, what beast
Has the nerve to challenge our ringroad’s traffic?
Well, it’s just a lantern, hanging precipitously
As a lantern does, delicate and alone.
It’s strange how objects seem to lose
The sense of place, wandering, as if they had no family
And no kin, only their color and form to guide them.
The lantern subsides in the breeze,
Resolved to mischief at some later date.
And that traffic flowing continues leftward,
The sky, grey, leaves the day.
Hong Kong Harbor
I reach out my arms to touch you, Hong Kong, magnificent city;
As we wade across your harbor, high, in a white-domed cabin.
The faithful star-ferry dredging across the cityscape’s hazy blocks;
The pier relatively distant, dock-buildings lazily spread across the face of the sea-hill;
Such peace dwindled; the seagull had cawed again,
His sound fierce, message idling in the blue-set sky. We stood astern and gawked.
Green, shredded leaves filter through the upper-deck railings,
Left from the shoreline’s arboreal molt; we saw those oaks
Raise themselves above the lowered dock, dutifully, like brothers.
Docking in with a slight, expected shudder, the spell fell
To disembarkation. A low, iron drawbridge led us to
That salt-laced group of aged boards. With tepid steps
We broached land. How welcome, to be aground and alive.
The sea was alive. Its eddies whorled, the marina juggled crates.
Laurence Li is a recent graduate from Yale and now lives in Beijing. His senior year, he completed a poetry portfolio, "The Nixon Scenes" with Louise Glück. His work has appeared in the Yale Daily News Magazine and the Yale Literary Magazine's online section.