We met on the bridge. You with your words, me with mine,
both of us primed to recite our side of the story,
to voice our concerns and regrets, swallowing deep breaths
ready to contest the wind that rattled the wires around us.
Your ruby cheeks, your white knuckles, O’ you had so much to say,
and I felt the tension tough as sirloin steak, bound to burst,
split, and break at any moment, to quarrel whatever language
I had to muster as I first arrived to meet your gaze.
It was over one hundred years ago that they built the bridge,
to join a suburb and small village. Chains, bolts, girders, rods,
still hold tight together after all these years.
They’ve not broken, nor have they fallen apart, no matter
the thousands of people who rock the length in their marches,
their weight and influence forever carried day and night.
Both lands are held because great men and women
poured blood, sweat and tears to make ends meet.
They worked at it.
So, we decided to do that, follow the good example
to bond our little thoughts so often apart.
We left together, with the rust beneath the paintwork.
Photograph of Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, UK.
This piece was very much inspired by both Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s bridge as well as Seamus Heaney’s poem Scaffolding.