I remember ghosts in that Ghost City along the banks of China’s Yangtze River.
Once on the mountaintop,
Now on a riverbed, ghosts that once watched from above now gaze from below,
in muddy river currents,
writing free verse from Qinghai to Shanghai
Remembering Fengdu, my closed eyes see the young farmer hoeing, the old woman gardening, the old man painting, and the hopeful panning for gold.
I bottle scenes as one bottles water, some still and cooling as refreshment on the tongue,
Some effervescent pulsing against the temples of the skull . . . .
Until the skull bursts with the vision
Of that temple of engineering
Called Three Gorges Dam.
It will electrify the populace,
Contain the flooding waters,
And lift high the power of China,
So that when the sportive gather in Beijing, the Olympic torch
Will touch the sunbeam that once kissed the mountaintops,
Now submerged with ghostly eyes as hollow as the rings
On which the gymnast swings. Remembering Fengdu, I sigh hard
Against the gripping walls of tourists’ wagging tongues
And roving eyeballs grinning, “Gorgeous!” and “Great!” I unfold “Beijing 2008”
On jet black cotton and thrust head and arms through the memory of the market
Where I bought that shirt seven years before, after the first taste of osmanthus
And the first sight of a comarand perching on the water delighted me.
Lifted on the river’s crest, gasping “Gorgeous Gorges!” I too perch on a tiny boat
wending its way
to the river bottom, where tears swell the banks to overflowing.
I whisper to the ghostly eyes, how happy and how hospitable were those engineers
And guides who feted their visitors with feasts and fantasies of prosperity.
My hands shape the spheres of the gold medals around the necks of tumbling, twirling acrobats,
Medals round like the ghostly eyes that smile through tears knowing that
These acrobatic descendants can still touch the mountaintops and kiss the sunbeams.
They no longer must pan for gold but may wear the gold, for they electrified the populace
And lifted high the power of China. So . . . .
If they cannot also contain the flooding waters of the Yangtze, nor the tears of the ancients
Who see their homesteads disappear into a watery grave while seeking peace in memory,
Never mind, for who has the power to determine who should or should not dam power?
Winner 2011 West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition .... Llongyfarchiadau/Congratulations to Nancy E. Wright
Can you re-post it with the original (or the intended) indentations? It looks odd to see it so disjointed the way it appears here.
These are pretty close to the original indentations...or at least as close as html will get when reproducing formatting from a Word document without hours of tinkering
For the EXACT original open the docx attachment which Nancy posted at the top of the page.