Sunday, June 24, 2018

Reflections on Canals


     The lights of Suzhou spangle cityscapes on green
     canals the tour boat plies.  From aft I watch the wake
     ripple clustered tower blocks, tenements, and bars
     decked out with neon signs and sprung from concrete banks.
     In shoreline parks, where flood lamps next to footpaths cast
     columns of emerald up to willows, hedgerows strain
     high beams that cruise on streets past iron fences.  Hues
     pour through, stream out over the mirror-canvas, as
     the prop hurls field grey wash back.  Forward, an emcee
     blares top forty hits, coaxes fares to whoop it up,
     pose with watery brews.  I lift a jug of bai
     jiu, soak my throat with fiery notes the bards of old
     passed around.  Under bridges, hums of coupes diffuse
     the scents of ether.  In a courtyard paved with jade
     that shimmers, outboard motors hush.  The vessel drifts
     among reflections of a bare mill’s blued rock walls,
     dark patios draped by gnarly trees’ amber leaves,
     and algae-covered slabs, deployed to bear low spans,
     behind which subtle streams proceed to destinies
     beyond the centuries of lotus massed along
     the margins.  Strands about the murky passages
     confound the helm and current host.  While shallows strew
     the slapdash tones of restless passengers, I’m drawn
     by shades of roped-off piers before the surface craft.