by Stephen Behrendt
This is Hong Kong, then, rising from the China Sea
as we skim in southward from the mainland.
Here the air is thick and heavy, dense
with the scent of May in the parks,
with corridors of exhaust fumes between tenements,
with spices, hot oils, smoke and sweat
that blend and swirl between the rains.
Here we wait for three days,
purchase tickets, visas, bottles of water,
slip in Kowloon Park from tree to tree—
islands of shade in the sea of melting sun
that saps the strength, the will—
and watch wiry old brown men
and women young and old
do tai chi, moving slowly in the heat;
sweating with the slightest move, we understand
the slow, controlled rhythm of the moves,
the breathing that tolerates the heat.