Elegy for Bridge 9340

2019-06-17T09:50:45+00:00May 28th, 2019|

On August 1, 2007, the I-35 W Bridge in Minneapolis—also known as “Bridge 9340”collapsed into the Mississippi River.

By Su Hwang

 

Steel trusses & gusset plates gave way:

Splintered concrete bones, somersaults

.

Of beams, barrel vaults & bowstrings.

…………..Then: Mayhem.

…………………………………Zigzag

…………..Of cantilevers amid manufactured

Jetties over lock & dam; collapsed

.

………..Bridge. Blare of sirens.

Yellow school bus

…………………………..Dangling off

The precipice like a suggestion. Pure

………..Terror at the height of

.

……………………Rush hour: we interrupt your

Regularly scheduled programming to bring

 .

You breaking news. Crushed car

…………………….Constellations in the murk.

.

A tractor-trailer on fire.  On TV, there’s

…………..Always more horror to assume.

.

Offscreen: strangers saving strangers

From certain oblivion. I had forgotten

.

The Mississippi feeds from the North

Woods to the delta—its gnarled

.

……………………Tendons stretching

Past cornfields to inland marshes

.

Where the whisper of tornadoes

Can usher devastation. Doesn’t tragedy

.

Often happen in this fashion—a split

Second decision like having an extra cup

.

Of coffee or hitting the snooze button?

Coming to a full stop could mean the

.

Difference between breathing or no longer

Belonging: twist of fate waits for no one,

.

Not caring where you come from or how

……………………………..Much you’ve saved

.

For winter. But can we live like this?

Always looking over shoulders as we move

.

Through channels—across borders? Whether

Manmade or fed by nature, all we can do to

.

Survive is keep our heads straight on this

Two-way street—remembering to always

.

……………………………………….mind the gap. ■

.

SPACE

This essay appears in Under Purple Skies: The Minneapolis Anthology, available for pre-order from Belt Publishing.

Su Hwang is an award-winning (and sometimes, not) poet whose debut collection, Bodega, will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2019. She teaches creative writing with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and is the co-founder, with poet and activist Sun Yung Shin, of Poetry Asylum, a community-based organization  in Minneapolis. Visit her at suhwang.com.

Cover image by Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0).

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