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  • Heung Aiden

Eight O'clock On The Bund

The salty, almost oceanic smell of the night

descends upon us,

like a knife on a loaf of soft bread,

cutting,

cold,

and soundless.


Then comes the giant structure of a cloud

rubbing against the heaven-defying towers,

sending waves and waves

of baffling light to the bund, where

people stay and take pictures

of the untimely rapture.


The avenue becomes a red sea, parted

by the traffic police, whose boots

kick with the sound of a striking staff.

It’s eight o’clock,

a notorious time for the well-made reality

to be made anew

or made adequate.

For us who only perceive what’s given,

it’s definitely a show, downplayed sometimes

when a sudden draft of the wind stirs us

like a de-ja-vu—


I must have been here,

though in a different time, by a different name,

maybe on a bamboo boat as the first bell

from a century ago rattled

the twilight haze.


I must have seen too much history

lost to the crying river in my long life

As a fisherman,

As a student,

As a soldier,

As a new government clerk,

As the old society scum,

As a peasant set free

As the first businessman

and at last,

A modern citizen, as they say.


So much has changed,

the same my inconsequential voice

in the city’s monotonous din.


It’s eight o’clock,

I come to the river looking for you.


*published on the tenth issue of A Shanghai Poetry Zine, Perception

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 © 2019 by Aiden Heung