Through the Lens: A Day in the Life

Salt pan to Tai Pan, Backs bent to shuck barnacles, Tease out a leather shine, Carts pushed by folk weathered through the political shutter-speed Of refuge, enclave, port town. People came, from the sea, over marshland, then from planes. Built with granite, neon, concrete. Bodies now contort to walk a straight line, where coolies once ran vertical, lithe. Sampans, then junks, then ocean liners, Buildings set afire at night, spilling technicolour onto ancient waters, but at dawn gentle, lapping, quiet. Close your eyes, stick out your tongue, taste the briney preserve passed down

by many suns. This is lion rock spirit.


Woman sits gargoyled, joining the neighbourhood choral of lunchtime gossip. Pause to tear grilled meat over her styrofoam box, biting into words and rice, equanimous, amidst the bustle of moving office shapes, the wet market melodies of fruit hawkers. Her toddler charge, slumbers in a pushchair, each breath an earnest hot release from rosy, balloon cheeks. Up the hill a sign mandates a ‘sitting out area’ where pigeons and the elderly duly comply. They flock, both in colours of muted blues and purples and greys, bring a stillness to the city,

Like balm to soothe the lion’s belly.


From the 59th floor, pen following figure eights of the black kites outside, They soar, regal, take long sweeping surveys of the world. All is quiet for us. Far below, pile driving and construction debris puff from building sites, trams amble, their strained calls losing voice as higher and higher we ascend – human sacrifices moved through the circulatory system of the building’s lifts. The birds and I are joined in captivity by men in cages. They trawl the epidermis of the beast, cleaning windows inside an eerie bygone peace, as the wind jostles, and pulleys quiver, they sit, nonplussed, travelling the outlines of the skyline

that gilds sleeping rocks come nighttime.


Thousands of bodies confined to a metal tube, carving personal space in a digital realm, despite standing shoulder to shoulder, a few spill out at every station, the weary calm briefly unsettled Each waiting for the beep of the Doors to signify – satisfaction, reprieve, a hot meal, perhaps Or just the television screen. To shower, then bed when night bleeds into the early hours. And then, to wake, to do it all again, and again, again, rub from eyes, the salty sediment spun from sleep, rise together to raise the beast.

This too, is lion rock spirit.