It lay like a protected virgin;
serenely composed in a sepia dawn,
marbled clouds playing Chinese whispers
amongst low-slung hills.
These were the days before cruise ships and casinos;
water dotted with junks and fisher folk,
no signs of demon triads
or Southern Belles molesting roulette wheels.
The day I arrived the streets were hot and choked with tourists,
I escaped to the Portugese Church in the central square
then wandered to the foreshore
to commune with ancestral breezes.
As the ferry headed back to Honkers
I dreamed about what must have been;
of quiet days and tranquil nights
before the colonizers came.
* * * * *
This poem is part of a series of works inspired by the Smithsonian Institution’s photo archive, made publicly available on Flickr. If you would like to, choose an image from their collection and create something – be it prose, poetry, audio, or visual art – inspired by it, and send it to snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com.