Sunday, March 07, 2010

High Crossing

author’s note:

In my early youth, I had a wild fear of walking over bridges.

But in Arkansas, we had what we called “swing bridges”.  Those bridges hung high above our rivers and creeks, and some of those rickety things were to be feared.


Crossing high over a river
on a swing bridge
that appears
none too trustworthy.

A swing bridge
with several broken footboards
and two long frayed ropes
for my hands to hold--

the fragile span creaks
as the wind rolls in

and the water flashes
far below me–its red rocks
look like mouths of sharks.

Nonetheless, none of this
can deter me from gazing
at the distant mountains
revealed in that open space
where the river parts the trees.

Fed by the sun, those mountains
rise like towers
overgrown with moss.
Or like a garden of green pillars.
Or like ancient tombstones.
--I’m reminded of many things
   that those mountains
   both are and are not.

Do they watch over us--?--
and if they do watch,
do they feel alarm--?--or
at least, some concern?

They worry not
for themselves--they know
we can not destroy them--
no matter how hard we work.
--I feel

the softness
of the wooden step
beneath my boot.

So I slide my foot
onto the next footboard

only find that its wood
has gone weak as well.

I imagine all these boards
suddenly collapsing
like piano keys falling
into a river of applause.

But I can also imagine
walking on air
all the way
to the other side--

though I know
such wishes
are never honored--
such wishes
are just not honorable.

So for moment, I will watch
my toes and not the mountains...

but I can still feel the mountains

and in feeling, I listen
to their message:
if they can not die
neither can I...

So if I fall, I will try to fall
gratefully, gracefully
'til I'm borne on a bird
that lives in a cloud
toward those welcoming peaks.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton

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Blogger Goldenrod said...

This reminds me SO much of a swinging foot bridge between Candelaria, TX and Mexico. As we stood and watched, neither of us daring to try it, we saw dogs, small children and adults carrying chairs and whatall not to the other side. Not a care in the world! :)

4:54 PM  

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