By the Old Airport
Hong Kong, 1987
The rooftop terrace where we stood face up to the bellies
of descending planes, 150 feet above, blocking our sky;
their thunder filled our ears and throats
as they swooped down to the final approach,
five miles to Kai Tak runway. Expats ourselves, of a
different sort, we asked: was he Scottish and homesick,
the man who named this spot Grampian Road?
Yesterday, I googled you and also our old home.
There are cafes on the road, did you know? Savills
sells new developments. ‘The Grandeur.’ Of course.
Our flushing system never worked, the drains continually clogged,
the paving around our building so uneven, I tripped often.
My scarred knees still know it. You are an interior designer
in a city I’ve never visited. One reason we haven’t met since then.
The Baptist church across our old street is now shiny new,
doors of polished brass and glass; it has sprouted offices
around the modest cream cross that rises above. Unchanged.
Oh those hours you spent, my dear flat-mate, at the window
gazing at the brides on the church steps, aah-ing at their
lavish white dresses, their signature poses:
with groom, without groom, with family, alone.
Alone on the steps but not lonely, always the same photographer
arranging their arms and bouquets; serious, unsmiling, clicking.
At your window you sighed misty-eyed, judged: this dress too frilly,
that train too long, the white not bright enough, the lace bell
sleeves you would love to have. You sucked in your cheeks to pose
for the photographer’s busy back. We knew that you would marry
in red not white, around a fire and not on a Sunday. Yet.
The street behind us filled with a string of hairdressers, I got
a sharp new bob, styled by the young apprentice who took
too long but gave me a haircut everyone remarked on.
Google shows me a hotel occupying that row. Contemporary.
It’s not like the one we went to for the smorgasbord brunch, the spicy bloodymarys,
the dim dining room with secret mould in the corners,
our overloaded plates, our grins reckless towards our sedate futures.
Shortlisted for the Milestones Poetry Competition 2017