Bridge Suicide Guard, Nanjing.
The dream inherits me. A figure
clutches the railing. I am running
as fast as I can bolting though silt fog,
no more man than colt, but never
I've lived my life on the Yangtze. Water
still astonishes me. What water comes for me,
is it water that will come? Every morning
birds rise like brume & a sunless sun
approaches through the murk, reaches me
shy of an arm's length. Both of us
harbor canaries inside our throats.
As a village boy, I once watched a man jump
& catch a wutong branch; a storm
of water fell as he shook it off, running,
his laughter summoning black kites from roost.
It's difficult to see where the riverbank ends,
where the river begins. The bridge stands
twenty-four brides tall, its crest veiled by cirrus.
Those who hurt themselves are never unkind.
This is a place for bird-watching.
Jumpers who miss the river are not counted.
In Guangzhou, fences, guards, & flags failed;
so they smeared butter on the steel.
Which works as well as one would expect.
When the girl stabbed me with a fork,
it moved in me like the foot of a swan
caught in mangrove. I thought of my daughter
baptizing kittens in a well, the mother cat
rescuing her children, one by one, by the nape of their necks.
We swayed as a train passed. The girl whispered:
It was like telling a story in which I didn't die