On the Bridge

BridgeThe new bridge does not speak to my heart, not like the old one. The old one was made of stone, ancient and worn. The new one, although probably safer, looks like someone’s back yard deck. Ancient and timeless replaced by utilitarian and commonplace. All that allows me to tolerate this travesty is my inner knowing that this too shall age. And when the wood grays and the shiny brackets become burnished and dull, only then will I grow to love it. But until then, I grieve.

The water is choppy on the west side of the bridge. Funny how I name the sides by how the waters flow, and not from where the ends meet the land. From the west, the water bubbles and spins over the exposed stones. This same flow whispers and bends toward unseen hands on the east, where all but a few stones are completely submerged in the creek bed.

Facing the west, I can almost pretend that the sounds of traffic are just another thread of conversation within the creek’s symphony of voices. East however removes this illusion bringing me back into the here and now.

This small narrow bridge over the Sligo Creek, one of the places where I go to seek the waters, is only wide enough for a couple to walk hand in hand. And bikes, baby carriages and runners travel it daily. I cause a traffic jam every time I pause to listen to the waters. I am in the way, because I do not seem to get the purpose of the bridge.

I call it an occupational hazard for shamans and mystics. I get caught up in what a bridge is, not what it makes handy. A bridge doesn’t just connect land to land; it transforms water into water. And so I stand in the middle listening and reveling in the flow beneath my feet as toddlers and their guardians suck their teeth and say with increasing shrillness, “Excuse me!” And I answered absentmindedly … “Sure.” Absolving them of the sins of blindness again and again. And like countless mad men before me, the joggers and nannies shake their heads as they squeeze past, wondering what on earth has gotten into me – standing on a bridge and listening to the water.

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