Looking out over the now quiet river
I can barely see the opposite shores
Which fold the huge metropolis.
Pier Head is somnolent now but behind
Great buildings , busy streets, lie hidden
From my gaze, except for giant structures
In the foreground, symbolic of another era
When cities such as this were hub of empire.
Dominant on their twin towers , the mythical birds
Seemed poised, ready for flight.
To a new world? To a new future?
Emblems of industry and prosperity
They guard the threshold of the city
Which will endure as long as they endure.
No need for flight. Perched on their towers
They will not leave their posts as long as
Citizens have need of them.
They have seen many changes:
Planners` dreams (and nightmares) realised.
No longer do the birds gaze down on tracks
Which trams, packed with people, used,
Bringing day-trippers to the ferries.
The tunnels take their place.
Swallowed in their cavernous maws,
The cars rush madly , as if hell bent,
Crossing their personal Styx.
No ferries now; their clientele has gone.
The gulls no longer wheel and chatter
Round the boats, seeking food among the crowded decks.
These bands of pilgrims to their promised land
Where sandy beaches, cafes, fairgrounds lie
On this side of the river;
Deserted the ships, preferring to be car-cocooned.
But as I look for what has gone,
I see the present:
Docks stretching like some great snake
Encircling and protecting;
I see the fort, still vibrant,
Trading with a distant world.
The city`s heart beats strongly yet
Among its people.
Older than mine, the eyes of the city guardians
See truer. Omniscient , they know the past
And see into the future. They know the heady
Days of empire; accept the present,
And anticipating the future
They will not leave their vigils
Watching like sentinels over their city.

© A.B. Finlay Ph.D