“We can never be with loss too long.”
— Spencer Reese, At Thomas Merton’s Grave
The planks and bricks rickety, low, so
Cal Cooley built that bridge for the local boys.
Part and parcel public works for his
brave little state of Vermont.
“1924” chiseled in Gothic on that
white granite found deep under Bethel.
The floodwater of ’27 just a stain. How to measure the
other years? By cracks and the dignity of graffiti?
Even my days sag and run together, to know those before
like removing the spring’s daily trickle from Silver Lake.
When my forewaters spill in ’80, you’re old if you recall prior.
On some lost who-knows-when, Locust is dammed-up deep there
with mossy telephone poles,
the best swimming hole beneath. It’s a 20-foot drop and clear to the
I’m 13 and dizzy on the rail. Some years you touch.
You learn to make your body sharp, muck the better of red welts and blue wails.
More cracks, which are just more cracks, but the graffiti more street.
When I climb up at 26, I shiver in advance and almost fall instead of
Strange that loss functions as ballast.
Duly sessile then, till I found my bride.
Then filled and fleet and the splash is back.
She wondered if my Nanne and Gov would be safe as
Irene blundered up the coast.
Hurricanes don’t hit Vermont!
Except in ’38, I see. Which is the same as never.
A photo kept in my wallet, count back from ten: that pool, that bend in Locust
before the road up to the old farm,
before the summer unwinds.
A “timeless” view, but of course, exactly time.
And now you really can’t get there from here,
not by bridge. And I won’t even recognize the vista. Just
this is the way it was when the water came rushing in.
Soon we are not with loss but of it.