"Yangtse Blues" - Bob Ambrose


"Yangtze Blues" - Bob Ambrose 
Three Gorges Dam Memorial Park, China
January 4, 2013

Far away, well east of Eden
virile rivers carved a valley
through the age of long ago.

Now stretching out in black earth flatness
cotton patch competes with paddy
tractor vies with buffalo
below the rolling orange groves
with fences lined in climbing jasmine
border rows of sycamore.

Here in the highlands of Hubei
I can hear its song
rising out of mist and mountain
gray home of gods now gone
refuge of wayfaring mystic and misfit
place where the wild torrent
courses through gorges
once upon some time ago.

But now the long river
flat and heavy
murky deepness drowns Three Gorges
sighs behind a concrete slab
controlled and still
until release.

To wander
ancient river plains
that birthed and nurtured
feudal lords

a brand new land
of grit and coal
of dusky skies
that smother cities

town and village
torn and pillaged
taken into concrete

borg till onward
into paradise
of tollway road

and high rise rows
in cities of ten million
souls, new centers

that were meant
to sparkle, broker
fortunes, beckon

dreams and draw
beleaguered masses
forward, soar

into the gray-brown
skyscape, lined
with cranes

and belching stacks
that stitch the land

and sky with smog
and seal the earth

beneath the load
of human progress.

East meets West
and ups the ante

heeds the siren
staggers forward

fading into midday haze.

And from the highlands of Hubei
so very far away from Eden
I can hear the good earth groaning
crushed beneath a billion souls
just seeking their century
salvation in wealth.

And so the modern world goes
as Gaia sighs and turns to stone
to wait upon a wiser age
when sages and keepers
will come once again.

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