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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Bridge

 On a late-running day in early August
I stopped to buy a cup of coffee and a muffin
and listened to the bell ringing no sooner than I
had reached back to my truck

“The bridge is closing! The bridge is closing!” it declared,
 “The bridge is closing and everything must stop!”

She swings open to the river and closes to us, this thing…
this thing that gets cursed by its neighbors yet helps
us to remain what we are and what we’d like to be

On this morning, though, she knew no friends
as she sat there – still – and waited for all of us,
road or river bound, to wait.

A barge was sitting below and downstream,
drifting sideways in the current, while the gates
rested in place and a tee-shirted man rushed franticly to-and-fro,
trying desperately to fix whatever it was that needed fixing
until at last the light turned green, she opened back up to us
and we were allowed to pass on through toward wherever,
perhaps, there was no real urgency to go

She wasn’t in a mood to be swinging open that day, I guess,
that eighty-year-old creature of painted steel.
She was probably broken again or, at the very least,
just a little too damn ornery to move.

She’d been known to feel that way for days at a time,
but that particular day she was in a peculiarly particular way
not to be friendly to that poor old barge stuck down there below us,
as well as to its tug and any and all of the too-tall pleasure craft
belonging to owners dopey enough and/or cheap enough
too moor them too far upstream

And as long as she felt that way, someone or something
whispered into her ear, she might as well let a few of us
pathetic motorists on through

And so we won the little war on this one, otherwise
everyday, morning, a day in which I hadn’t even felt like
fighting, and yet somehow went on to win

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