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from the March 2013 issue

Crossing Bridges

I crossed the Vltava by way of the Charles Bridge.
I crossed the Neva by way of the Trinity Bridge.
I crossed the Danube by way of the Lion Bridge.

I crossed the Moskva by way of the Novoarbatski Bridge.
I crossed the Sava by way of Branko’s Bridge.
I crossed the Tiber by way of the ponte Sant’Angelo.
I crossed the Seine by way of the pont Mirabeau.
I crossed the bridges of rusted iron over the immense Paraná,
at Gualeguaychú,
and the equally mighty Santa Lucía River
at the entryway of old Montevideo.
And now I am traversing the East River
by way of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Which one of them will be the bridge of my dreams?
I am immobile in the air halfway between
Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The East River at my feet:
dense, uninhabited, without flowing.  So is my blood.
And a bit of a breeze lifting the skirts of the schoolgirls.
Halfway there like the navel of that young woman,
halfway there between the shrunken T-shirt
and the beginning of her marked pubis due to the sagging pants.
Thus I am in the middle of the bridge of Brooklyn,
In the midst of all the bridges of the world.
The noble neo-gothic arches of Manhattan bidding me farewell,
those of Brooklyn awaiting me.
This middle of the road, this power to choose
between continuing or returning, this no-man’s-land
in the middle of the air is, like Whitman wrote,
the best medicine for the soul.
Isn’t the soul also something aerial?
Seated on this bench, in the middle of the bridge,
the jam stops a large black limousine
right between the interstices of the woodwork.
It moves toward Brooklyn but it returns to Manhattan
And so on and so forth.
Here I feel how the axis of my life becomes displaced
from the past unto the present and the four eyes
of the arches conceive my future.
The towers of the bridge, on either side,
despite the fog, they are clearly
defined. They are the twin sisters of the other giants.
Am I daydreaming? Or, more precisely, am I waking from a dream?
I am halfway there and I linger.
My friends take a seat by me,
meanwhile someone takes a photo of us that is veiled
by a cyclist who passes without stopping.
She cries raising her arms from the handlebar.
At least something remained etched in us
of her fresh face.I cross bridges just as storms.
What side will they cast us?
I seek repose in all things.
All of whom passed I met when
I was under the leaves of the fig tree.
When I am weak, then I am strong,
my strength is powerful in weakness.
I cross bridges just as I leave dreams in hotels.
And through the towpaths flow impassive rivers.
Seated upon the bench I remain in silence.
The silence belongs to the art of oratory.
It rains over the Paraná.
It snows over the Neva.
My gaze is so innocent that it deceives. 

“Cruzando puentes” © Cesar Antonio Molina. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Francisco Macías. All rights reserved.

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