Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, Western China
This city flows north from eroded canyonscoal mines staining the river-bottom
variegated badlands above a graded army road
rising unevenly toward distant snow.
The city slides down like gravel in a wash
sediment deposited as black dust on floors and faces
bricks grimy before they set, the stream herded
into a cement ditch lined with blighted elms,
their leaves spotted with rust.
Buses and carts fall up the map, streets fan out
like alluvium abandoning the beige barren hills
for an uncertain desert basin below
houses and concrete schools unresisting
defeated by rumbling boulders
the mass inevitably collapsing under oncoming mountains.
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. More than 80 of her poems appear in public online and in anthologies. The natural world is her framework; she focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them.