Walking Across the Yangtze Bridge

It's a tired old river—
Let's be honest about it, okay?—
and today the sun is blazing hot.
There is nothing romantic about it:
The Dirty brown and yellow water
looks like oozing sludge
from an illegal mining operation.
I do not meet the famous singer
south of the river where I begin my walk,
and I do not meet Dù Fǔ pulling out his hair
on the other side.
On the river, which has no reflection,
Lǐ Bái is nowhere to be seen.
And though many have jumped—
it's the preferred destination for suicide travellers,
a must for upscale people on the way out—
I have no impulse whatsoever to do so;
it would be eternal damnation
of the soul, I'm sure,
a new canto in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Barges below, navigating the mud,
are full of the heavy stuff of this world—
only the beginning in a long process
of manufacturing the "goods" of this world,
which are really the "bads" of this world
and destroying everything
natural and beautiful and not a product
of man's manipulation.

Back at the hostel on Hequnxinchun in Nanjing
I order a cold beer,
light and frothy.
Thinking of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
with the fog coming in and blue choppy waters below,
I'm far away in the snug little world named for
a saint who loved caves and misty mountains
and had the lightness of air.
by Louis Martin