Saturday, April 12, 2008


The sand at Hidden Falls was still frozen
but it softens when you sit
because here pumps the first barge of spring
coming round the bend.
At least as far as you know
no, it's no Mark Twain Delta Queen
cascading up the waterway
the night Old Dixie laid it down
but it is pleasant to sit and watch
the barges shudder and smack the next ripple
pushed on by an engine a fiftieth their size
and out of sight around the willow sandbar
But as the barges come into view I see
they are not coming up empty for gravel or grain
but are laden down with construction gear,
steel black I-bars, the span of the new bridge
they are building by the falls, the one that came down
and killed those people last August.
It's a smart idea as these bars are huge,
they can't be shuttled about on city streets,
no helicopter can hold them,
and on the next cold barge I see compressors
and a crewhouse and gigantic black tires
maybe to buffer the boats from the pylons
and I see an entire steel staircase in one welded piece
you could just drop into place and start climbing
but it is on its side now, so the stairs
go neither up nor down
and would be very awkward to navigate.
And it all chugs by, the most remarkable thing,
a bridge coming upriver to take its place,
until it falls too, all bridges fall,
and that tiny little tug behind now coming into view,
a fiftieth the size of the barges it's pushing
is a riverboat, a tug, with whistles whooshing,
pushing against current for all it's worth,
and on its prow its name, The Minneapolis.

April 11, 2008

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