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replaced the one bulb planes see on that bridge he tells us,
bark sizzling into white fingerprints for the wind.

in this guitar spring everything’s wet, wrapped in coiled steel
and someone plucks low notes from the cold enveloping our bodies.

a bridge named after the first guy to die in the war. we’d ask
which war but the article tells us quietly which one.

we don’t understand it, how one word implies a noun
so we and the fire smoke and the wind channels a compass made

of smoke. the smoke revises our seating chart and directs us
everywhere except where it points. over the river

in a canvas chrysalis inching backward the bridge grows slowly
bluer. to get to this fire you drive under rust being erased

by a thousand under-paid brushes. the first guy to die
who didn’t build the bridge jumped off it. there’s no small word

that implies swan dive, gainer, corkscrew, how, into what
style he turned his fall, but we don’t ask. we rotate chairs,

talk about the 50 tons of paint that every seven years keep
the Eiffel tower free of scabs. my sisters don’t say it

but they prefer the rust. one man died in the construction of the Eiffel tower.
we don’t want to know how, we prefer imagination,

a rivet-gun tragedy, a loose-strut arpeggio, a harness uncoupling
into a sustained decrescendo. first guy, he jumped, didn’t work on it,

was the nephew of the bridge’s namesake, and we nod that coincidence
is silent. no man does the work to use it as an end. those filaments,

they’re enormous, big as his forearm he tells us, smoke rolling around him
like a lock tumbler. imagine, a man crouched in the sky above a river

fastening a bulb into its socket. imagine that bulb burning in water
better than any fire a man can make with his hands.

Conor Bracken is an MFA candidate at the University of Houston and has work published or forthcoming in Bodega, Foothill, The Oklahoma Review and Spry.
 


This poem came out of a conversation around a fire outside a family friend’s cabin.I see this family friend every summer and his stories range far, from being stranded in the Yukon  to BUDs training at 50 to poaching lobster off the Elizabeths. But we don’t love him just for his stories. And that’s what this poem is centrally concerned with: the connection of legacy and  production/creation. Whatever we create ought to last longer than we do, and though it won’t  remember us, its witnesses/readers will. And whenever I see that enormous bulb at the end of the poem blinking on the Braga Bridge, I think of Auntie Buck.





 


 




  


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