Sungei Buloh sonnets
I Migratory birds
A long drive in. Binoculars to help with seeing.
We are here for migratory birds flying in
from as far as Alaska, Siberia, Far East Russia,
arriving by ancient flyways like those that have come before.
They will stop, eat, gather their strength on this mudflat,
before some push further south. Born with migration
mapped into their genes, they listen to instinct,
departing for warmer climes, returning home in spring.
I turn the knob. A sandpiper perching on a river log,
happy in its solitude. At the lookout, whimbrels,
red and green shanks, stand motionless, indiscernible
to the human eye. Unperturbed by these visitors,
resident hybrid storks stretch their wings in lazy aerial circles,
signalling home, even if only for a time.
II The mangrove
At low tide, the prop and pencil roots of the mangrove
are visible from the ground. This is how the forest breathes,
in sync with the changing tides. The boardwalk
brings us closer, yet separates us from this briny world
where crabs climb trees every day of their lives.
As the tide rises, more seek refuge on tree trunks.
I have never been this close to crabs in the wild.
The Teochews eat them in vinegar.
A heavy rustle. The sound of wings above the trees.
We follow the movement, binoculars to eyes.
Two juvenile sea eagles back from hunting,
rest at the edge of the wetlands, looking out to sea.
The Straits of Johor marks the boundary between here
and there. Towering columns blur the horizon.
By Esther Vincent XuemingQLRS Vol. 19 No. 1 Jan 2020