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Posts Tagged ‘bridge’

It could be as simple as a log placed over the distance
that separates me from you. A fallen cottonwood tree.

But it’s never that simple, is it. That was not really a question.
Look, I have my shovel, my level, my concrete blocks.

I have support beams and metal straps, planks and nails.
I am ready to do whatever it takes to build this bridge. But it doesn’t

take an engineer to know that foundations need firm, fixed
dry ground. And you and I, we are moving targets.

Whatever I think I know about bridges is not serving me now.
Time to consider a new kind of span. Something elastic,

adaptable, accommodating, and, is it too much to ask,
durable. Perhaps the problem is that we ourselves are the obstacles

we’re trying to cross. We want and don’t want to be close.
We sabotage our chances to meet. I am going to start thinking

in new metaphors. Like migrations. Like rivers. Like wind that churns
and touches and bends every blade of goldening wheat.

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Almost Twenty Years Later

old bridge with missing boards
each gap a window to brown water
frothing and tossing below—
I’ve forgotten what we saw when we crossed
I remember it every day, the crossing

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It’s true, sometimes the river can’t be wide enough
between me and you. God knows it’s cold in there.
And deep. And full of secrets I don’t ever want to know.

And that old bridge joining us, sometimes I pray it falls.
Tell myself it’s better that way, what, with you over there
and no way to get over here except to swim—and I know

you won’t do that. Yeah, I say, it’s better that way,
you and me just keeping our distance. In fact,
sometimes I pretend it’s gone already, that old bridge.

But then next thing I know, I’m making up smoke signals
to say hey, there’s a really pretty light on the water tonight,
and hey, I’m wishing you would tell me that story again, the one

your mama used to tell to you when you were scared.
And that’s when I know that if that bridge collapsed,
well, I would build a new one with all my resources—

my stubbornness, my hope, my hands. It is hard
to build a bridge out of stubbornness and hope.
But I would. Sometimes it’s all we have.

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Uncle

I’ll never get
across that bridge,
I think, that bridge
I’ve been trying
to cross for years,
and my hands
throw themselves up
in surrender.
The God I say
I don’t believe in
wastes no time
in tickling me
under the armpits
until I am pink-faced
and gasping with
terrible laughter,
side-ripping, gut-aching
breath-grabbing laughter—
who knows how long
it goes on,
but when I wipe
the last tears
from my eyes
the bridge
is gone.

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Translation

I whisper them in your ear before we sleep.
I say them because what I am trying to say
is that if you were on one side of the river and I
were on the other side, then I, although I
am an engineering dunce, would find a way

to build a bridge to you. And if the bridge fell apart,
then although I am a klutz, I would walk far upstream
and try to swim across the current, no matter how cold,
how murky. And if the water were too swift and it carried
me past you, well then, I would climb out and dry off

and recover and try again. And if by chance we found
ourselves on the same side of the river and it
was both marvelous and terribly hard, and
if I sometimes found myself wanting to build
a bridge to cross and get away, or found myself

wanting to just jump into the waves, well,
I wouldn’t. I would stay. But that is a whole lot to say
and not so easy to take in, so instead, for the sake
of simplicity and going to sleep, I just kiss you on the head
and whisper those three words.

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all those walls
we built around our hearts
let’s tear them down
and reuse the bricks
to build bridges, stepping stones

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