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Experiment 13


page 2


I am counting cities in the rain:
the time of walking Customhouse
with Campbell — another down-and-out —
both half-crazed, coats aflap,
muttering lines from Eliot's plays;
that time I caught a tram in Christchurch
under the cathedral's dripping gong;
or alone in Auckland believed I'd found
how the Yeatsian weather went.
You weren't with me then, nor are
you now in this rain-bespattered town
the lights embrace — though I see your face
and hear your plaintive mermaid song.

Cities have their voices, sounds
which murmur softly as the surging foam
and, presumably, are places men
call home, eventually become
locations people learn to like.
It rains they say, in Washington
and storms have blown on Waikiki;
but little anyone knows who walks
the night-reflecting streets alone:
a pair of shoes, a facility
to count, a measure of grief and pain,
what the wind has blown beyond
the rain-swept night towards Kowloon.

Hong Kong,

3rd September, 1968.

A I H Paterson.