Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yangtze by Sarah Howe


Yangtze

The moon glimmers
in the brown channel.
Strands of mist
wrap the mountainsides
crowded with firs.

Declining cliffs
sink beneath vast water.
By remote paths,
twisting pines.

Far downstream
two sides
of a half-built bridge
fail to meet.
Our crude boat
chugging
points to Chongqing.
As someone I now forget
once said
journeying is hard.

My face greets
the evening breeze
I listen –
the dream of a place.

A cormorant dives
by trembling light.
From the white
eyelet of a star
the sound of ripples.

--

A fisherman
skirting shore
in his high-prowed skiff
crossing bamboo oars
comes up with a jolt –
nets catch not fish
but the wizened finger
of a submerged branch
for below
a sunken valley persists –

slick bare trunks
furred in wafting fronds
have water for sky,
ghost forest.
Roots rot deep in the hill
where buried rock
is still dry.

Windows film,
doors drift open
in the empty concrete
shells of houses
towns that once
held hundreds
of thousands
slowly filling with
what, what is it
they fill with?

Someone I now forget
once said
journeying is hard.
The moon glimmers
in the brown channel.

 

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