City of Bridges

I live in a city of bridges; each speaks a language to the river and to me.

I took a walk with Mike on a pale Saturday crossing the river twice on different bridges, over and back. We held hands, sipped great coffee and took in vistas of the Willamette River. I hadn't walked this path in a while and it was good to wake up my heart and see places I drive by a little closer to the hand. I could touch the rust and rivets and see up close all the homeless tents that share our city. I saw a bunch of loose, spotty bananas, a girl in gold leather sandals, many bicycles hanging from one tree and beautiful chunky tree-trunk tables that could have come right out of a West Elm catalog.

Now on foot, I heard the whistle of trains more often than not. I felt the hum of city busses rolling over toothy ridges in the open grate road. Their vibrations rattled my bones and whooshing air swept my neck before I saw them. I see by the graffiti that other hands have been here. I looked out to the river through steel girders. I know this old iron is full of stories to tell.

I suddenly remembered one today. I used to have a friend, a homeless man named Robert. I met him at a soup kitchen and every once in a great while I would run into him walking across one of these bridges. One summer we ate lots of meals together and he told me scattered stories of his life, how his house burned down when he was a child and how he loved Jesus.

I had been thinking about Jesus and drawbridges for a while now and working on this poem in the early mornings.

City of Bridges

A solid road among roads
Fortified and framed
In cold pressed steel
Hidden beneath turning wheels
I was careless of the pavement
Afraid of scythe’s bony deal
Of being thrown into the river
Of the cost to be real
In a city of bridges
Crossings are forgotten
Over a rolling river to the sea
Green eyes set on being free
Taken into hand
To climb the evergreen tree
At the top of the mountain
And say, "It belongs to me."

Everywhere I look
In the sweeping night sky
And every secret hideaway
Holds the stars in play
Singing first to me
Woven in the sway
Original hands cup the wind
Spreading sunshine for the day
He is rays on my fair skin
Warm, freckled and tingling
Filtered through perfect skies
In daylight behind my eyes
Lifting clouds like a veil
Answer to all the whys
Cotton from the lamb
My first love never dies

Before all the prior
First above first
The theory of everything
Sooner than healing waters spring
I was born in his cardinal wake
Aced Mozart’s soul to sing
Source of babies’ breath
At the threshold of early morning
The road was broken
Raised like a drawbridge
Rivets on the beam
Cabernet in the seam
So I could sail on past
Dream my little dream
Asleep in haunts of beauty
Drinking from the stream

Take a walk in your city and see what you wake up to.