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.”

 

 

 

When You Doubt a Friend

When you doubt a friend, it’s like

putting a flame to the handrail

of a well-worn footbridge, smooth

and trusting, and waiting for fire to appear.

 

Soon the handrail is useless for holding

you steady; the flame of doubt spreads.

Travel the bridge only down the middle, as doubt

grows hotter and meaner, swallowing more bridge.

 

Behind you, your tiny flame has grown

to devour where you once walked safely.

Remembered footsteps are consumed by your doubt.

No turning back, the bridge crumbles to ash.

 

Quicken your steps to safety, off the footbridge,

thoughts of days of peaceful passing there.

But you put the flame to the bridge.  Look back.

Ash and burned boards float past like old friends.

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