Finite and polished and still

find my words in riverstones

Yangtze mementoes

set to the music of opaque

contrapuntal tides, injured

flows, exhausted clanks

the noise of modern life.


Find me in the bedrock

where three rivers join.

Pick me up: my exterior

burnished to shine by millennium

of river rush concretized into solid joy.

Summon my sisters of the coves

Chinese sturgeon  spotted steed
gudgeon  puffers  bitterling  stone moroko
spiny eel  yellowcheek    finless porpoise

some gorged on, some exempt

from my immense hungers.

How I quicken with hope

knowing they endure


—because how can anyone go on alone?


Let me tell you a story.

Once rocks were just rocks

and we were supple creatures

these deeps our dreamland

century after century, unaware

of the paradoxes of the why or how

of who we were or the puzzle of

the obscure world above


but our worlds darkened and

we got clearer—quickly

evil genii cast spells of greed

causing (as they say)

the endemic decline of fishes taxa.

But listen dear Chinese sturgeon, my blue-whiskered friend—

are we not like words, here to emanate
the beatitudes of the world above
even through its daze?


O shadows of the upper world

we’re your lost songs

words forgotten, recalled

by melody alone. Reject

the exed-out maze

of your quaked soul

recover the superb

channel to the sea

follow your way back

by the path we’ve paved.