Two Times across the Tappan Zee Bridge

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The first time was at dusk.  The Hudson River stretched

like an invitation in the gentlest glow, both banks’

forest green arms holding me, as I rose with the bridge.

And at the top, nightfall’s vision sang, and I held,

floated there, watching the city catch the river.

Her skyscrapers gathered and huddled and whispered

of the night to come, and began to switch on spots

of bright into the fading light.  And beside, tiny, immense

Liberty stood, knowing the city and flowing the river,

and lifted us all across the bridge.

 

When I returned, it was morning.  The light was harsher,

less forgiving.  The climb to the top of the bridge seemed

steeper, somehow, for us all.  And I saw signs, along

the railings, read them.  “Don’t give up. There is hope.

Call the hotline.”  Street signs. Bridge signs. Signs.

At the top: “Do not jump.”  On this, the North side, only

the river, the fall.  And the ghosts that had put all the signs

on the bridge.  I could still see them jumping.  And my car

would not float but wanted to stop and fling its doors

open for me.  But the sign said, “Do not jump.”

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Two Times across the Tappan Zee Bridge

  1. I loved this poem, so evocative– but find it unsettling because I wonder if you are seriously considered suicide. I have many times but always sought help as I sincerely hope you will do if necessary. Sorry if overreacting to poetic license but need to say seek help if needed.

    • Thank you for your kindness and concern. I am doing well and am not suicidal. I appreciate your compassion in reaching out, and I hope you will continue to do so, as it can be something as simple as a comment such as yours that makes a difference to someone in that situation. Truly.

      When I crossed the bridge, I was struck by the contrast – on one side, the NYC skyline and all of its promise and beauty, and, on the other side, a series of signs telling people not to jump off the bridge. I know the Tappan Zee has has quite a few suicides (it is a high bridge). The feelings I had while crossing one way were such a stark contrast to the feelings I had while crossing the other way. That is what I was trying to convey in the poem.

      Thank you for taking the time to read it and for reaching out in kindness.

      • Glad you’re okay. It is a beautiful poem and would touch many in many ways, as it did me. Thanks, too, for saying my caring could make a difference. The message strongest for me was the enticing siren call of suicide. Best, Ellen

  2. It is unsettling, as Stockdale Wolfe says. certainly assuming this poem is an expression of poetic license, it takes the reader into the experience of the visit and of identifying with those who have been there before, along with sharing in the momentary urge to do the same. the signs almost speak out as though they know you’ll want to jump, so they’re reminding you to not do it. Good work!

  3. Very happy you read the signs. Optimist… always be an optimist. There is always something good that comes out of everything. You just need to open your eyes and look for it.

  4. How fabulous, I love the bit about the ghosts putting up the signs and I am glad no one jumped. A great poem with some serious imagery that sat in one’s thoughts quite a while, thank you. Kind regards, Baldy 🙂

  5. additional, my computer froze mid sentance, it should have read: I am glad that the poem built up the way it did, like a cake where the ingredients build and build towards a tasty conclusion, no one can say the voice inside their head hasn’t at some point suggested they should have jumped (i am also glad that we didn’t listen!). Great poem, thank you 🙂

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