Category Archives: China

Bird Garden, Hong Kong

A big pastime for old men in Hong Kong is keeping songbirds. There’s a large garden on Yeung Po Street in the Kowloon district, where men go to feed birds in return for songs.

I wrote this poem when I was there in 2001; it was published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire.

Bird Garden, Hong Kong

In the new Bird Garden
on Yeung Po Street
very old men
gaze at caged songbirds.

One lifts a bell-shaped dome
from a branch,
holds it above his chest,
below his earth-worn face.

There.  Its sudden trill
could be the sound of hope
played backwards
bright beads falling from the string of time –

or the beauty of things forgotten.