Fore River Bridge: A Landscape
by Michael McCarthy
Runestone, volume 10
Stodgy stacks of steel
Support asphalt over the ache of water
Like a band-aid on a cut thumb.
Far-off, far-flung fancies
Of pleasure-craft putter on the same current
Pilgrims, redcoats, Union soldiers,
And World War warriors rode.
No memorial is eternal as this noun-less river,
But only one verb constitutes it: go.
Looking back, the USS Salem,
“Pride of the Sixth Fleet,”
Rests and rusts; they once took tours
Of tourists through its innards,
A horror-show. Army vets lurched from dank
Corners, scared down dark corridors,
A camouflaged mirage of peril.
High-pitched shrieks flew through the iron hull.
I never went.
It’s too late now.
Free of kitsch, the battleship
Awaits its scrap metal fate
In militant languor, a futile relic
Of bygone wars. Its guns aim
Nothing happens here.
I jog this route to test my will and new shoes,
To thrash through thresholds of sweat (go, go, go).
One bead steeps into my eye. Our pain
Is small, and no statue will rise to remember us.
Only an icon of the Virgin Mary
Over the harbor presides
Some bodega buy
To call forth the insidious splash
Of flesh on hard water
Or the red stain
On the concrete base below.
The river washes the mess away.
Toppled by wind, the icon
Flops facedown on the ground.
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MICHAEL McCARTHY’s work has appeared in Rappahannock Review, The Adroit Journal, and Prairie Schooner. His debut poetry chapbook Steve: A Gift is available from the Moonstone Arts Center.