We were crossing Kowloon Harbour on a ferry, coming back from birding one of the islands. Huge dark thunderheads loomed; just a bit later they would drench Hong Kong in what is called black rain, rain heavier than any I’ve ever experienced again. Terns were fishing in the wake of the fast ferry to Macua; I wrote this poem in response to the experience.
Terns at Kowloon Harbour
Spare black on white, swift to frothing wake
in pewter waters; silver sweep of wing
bright counterpoint to lightning’s rake
rending the heavy hanging cloud; hovering,
holding; plunging to take the shining glide,
the curve and scale, beating upward against
the drag of wave, watching for the gleaming slide
of fish, awareness stretched and tensed and held
to dancing, diving grace.