Bridge Span to Maine


It’s when I’m as free as floating feathers
that I come to stroll beneath the bridge
and just beyond to hear the metal hum of
traffic crossing the Hudson, but I stop to
recall sixty years ago when we’d leave
Parnassus Bookshop back in Princeton and
head for Maine –the George Washington Bridge
being the first milestone of our trip–
that is, it marked one tenth the way to the
rocky coast muffled with fog, and you’d think
those palisades were the beginning of Maine
and the Hudson was the Kennebec especially
if some ship would sail beneath the bridge;
I wonder how many cars with fathers and sons
have crossed that bridge en route to Maine or
even Nova Scotia–now they hum like bees
with as many coming as going above a dim and
wavering shadow on the river looking like a
phantom generating memories of going northeast
and Mom staying behind to tend the bookshop
just a little while longer before she’d leave
to cross the bridge trying to forget intensity
of talk and the scant income from all the browsers
like John Berryman, Albert Einstein, and Richard
Blackmur, all gone, one even jumping off a
different bridge to his death and another jumping
into a distant galaxy and another closing himself
deep within a critical school, but my thoughts are
interrupted by a banging, noisy truck making
the bridge span repeat the sound several times
during the here and now instead of sixty years ago
when I knew I was one tenth the way to Maine and
the blessed freedom of a million seagulls.
 
By Richard F. Fleck