Occasionally the mist lifts
from the middle past and we can see
severe gray ships come slowly drifting
past the shallows, slower past the jetty -
the reef far back to sea a stroke, off-white -
and on to meet the ghostly group
of waiting people, sporting spats, umbrellas,
and wearing topees and moustaches, twirling canes.
Then there’s the trees behind a sheet of rain,
stately, tall; a native couple
stands back behind the cold grey eyes
of white authority, a fleeting smile
to light their faces till again the mist
blots it all out: just trees and natives stay
there to endure while strangers fade away.