A poem – like a bridge – connects us. These strange and beautiful testaments to human imagination, will, and shared purpose, exist as soaring reminders that we are not alone. Too often, however, we forget to look and listen. In the course of our busy hours, we travel through frustration and drudgery, stopping to look neither within nor beyond ourselves. This collection is an invitation to connect.

On a bright April day in 2011, local poets took an all-access tour of the new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge. As we marveled at the collective feat of engineering prowess, creativity, and sheer human strength, verses sprung forth. These inspired poems are as diverse as the individuals and communities that this bridge links together.

We hope that they move you.
We hope that you share and return to them. We hope that you look at the innumerable bridges all around you – literal, metaphorical, and mortal – with a keener, more tender eye. And listen.

There could be no more perfect accompaniment to the music of the verses than the imagery of Thomas Michael Alleman. His photographs distill and communicate a mysterious beauty that’s sometimes too much for the eyes to take in all on their own. With his lens, he makes visible the echo of our deepest senses. To this poet of pictures, we are most grateful.

—The Editors: Tamsin, Elissa, and Ben

The Shape of Things
for the new Bay Bridge and those who build it
Kevin Simmonds

It’s softer
than you think

Temperatures were raised yes
to forge the pieces

but even they have lovely names
like catenary curve & cable saddles

& others could be called
bracelet wing echoing pressure

freighted steel fit/for horizon

Such distances already traveled
like that & this:

the thousand miles
& tens of thousand miles

the thousand hands

you understand
. . .

the Japanese/hard-hatted all

the Dutch & British
Conservatives & Cyclists

Italians & Homeschoolers
Freethinkers & Koreans

Conservationists & Chinese
& more Chinese

/even wider than those/

reaching all
who take into themselves

through the O of their mouths
the Os of their nostrils

then sound or sigh

Here again
are the shapes of things

repeating geometries
of the animate & inanimate

But no matter
the final shape

in this case
bracelet wing echoing pressure
. . .

all every each
circle circle circle

Bridge Building
Kirsten Jones Neff

This has not been done this grasp
across an opera of air, quivering
over fathoms above the bellow
and moan of sea.

We find play, eyes drawing hearts
to the edge of an ineffable math
engineered from the belly.

This is a deductive craving, a wild
aching for that farthest touch.
We sense it through a brume of longing
arch up and over.

Here is a mystic passage of harrowing
scale, the idea of our divide closing
as we build into fantasy, into each
other, until we find ourselves soaring
now merged and remade.

Zach Houston

Zach Houston

A bridge to all that is best in humanity…
Christina Hutchins

Our boat approached the tower footing box,
where under it & under us, under the weight
of the Bay & its silt, the battered piles are anchored
into bedrock, sunk not straight, but angled down,
contingent with the motion of earth itself.

For months, percussions of the pile-driver had carried over
the Bay to fall with the roaming nights through my third-floor
window in Albany, while below the surface, the workers
built of bubbles effusion walls, that the marine:
mammal, fish, eelgrass, not be killed

by sound-waves strong enough to kill a human, too.
Lifting capacity of stand jacks, elevation
of gantry, canticle, clavicle, bracelet, wing.
Through the angled canopy of suspension, an asymmetric
harp of wind, we travel the beloved, dark earth.

In hard hats & boots, thirty poets, with a boat-pilot
named Art & our bridge-guide, Bart, stood rocking
at the base of the tower. Aboard the gentle Taylor Anne,
like battered pilings our legs were set a shoulders’
width apart: at once, to move & be stable,

for we, too, are superstructures who sing the changes,
who bear & catch what sways. How else
to love what is & the yet to be? To befriend
a solid-seeming world’s constant motion
is an art, & time is the work of our lives, too.

A massive endeavor, human translations. The languages:
design & engineer, a mathematic of catenary curves,
arc-welding & a poetry of the forge via the Panama Canal.
The deck segments compressed, one into another & as a game
of cat’s cradle, the single cable loops around both

cantilevered ends of the self-anchored span, & by compression
& tension the horizontal weight translates to the tower.
& further, the bridge translates another passage,
between time, geologic, & the seconds on a rush-hour watch
at workday’s end, span of the passenger’s dream
Thirty poets, & I was among them, walked
beside three welders atop the Skyway. It was empty
& unlined, an unwritten page abutting nothing
but air. That day we stood on the vast slab
where the mortal will bustle day by day, unceasing.

Until the tremor of a raw earth becoming
ever more itself breaks a dusk or a dawn,
we inhabit a fable of fixity & the finished, as if
the phenomenon shifting our shores is not a molten
truth of slow time cutting through the quick.

For like you, like me, the glory of earth
springs perpetually incomplete. When the tectonic
plates leap, each shear link beam
is designed to bend & to crack. If ebullient beauty
requires its distortions, the bridge’s bones will deform.

Just before we boarded the Taylor Anne,
I slipped away a moment to touch the saddle.
That day the workers were to test-fit the main
tower saddle, & it sat right there on the ground.
The saddle was so much taller than I!

I will tell you what I felt: when I drew my fingers
along a tiny expanse of the seat of the cable on which
so many futures ride, it was smooth as the hull of a sailboat,
as the curve of the lover’s side grazed by sunlight.
Smooth as the curl turns a glossy page.

Now the saddle works, 525 feet above us.
Take the touch of my fingertips, now theytickle the sky!
There is a bridge none can build alone.
Not privatizing our joy but a mode of apprehending,
a mode of dispossession fundamental to who I am.

Like the sculptor become the center of the shape she feels
perceiving it all around, we came to love the bridge.
Not just what it is, but how it will bestow us again our lives
when the deep-studded earth quakes as the dreamer
shifts position when in sleep or in the moment of waking.

Planned Weakness
Elissa G. Perry

Interstitial fluids, the in-between parts. Not the events but what is done with them, in them. What happens as a result. Not the toss of the rock or the kerplunk of the impact, but the ripples. The light. The pattern of the skips of a rock thrown lateral before it sinks, seen for the final time. How a branch extending from the shore gently moves in that deep unknown.

Three hundred thousand to-ings and fro-ings. You labor in your worldly cousin’s shadow. Unfamiliar with his peacock ways, throwing color in the distance. You are familiar with plight. Are intimate with ripping and being brought to knees. From that knowledge a new skeleton arises to power migration, transition, an organ, a life. Fleeing, hoping, making – a better there. Transplanting. Three hundred thousand stories a day.

Our first time together, Laura was driving. A white 1989 Honda Civic. A paper doll of Michael Jackson from the Off the Wall era mounted to the dashboard with tape. William S. Burroughs hissing and grinding from the tape deck. His voice faded as you laid your wide grey tongue out before us. Michael led us onward with microphone and a knowing smile. This was not the skipping rocks water of the Indiana we were leaving behind, or the maybe someday horizon of adolescent musing. This was the I AM HERE of it all and you spread yourself out for the crossing. We descended the gullet on your far side and the city swallowed us whole.

Now exploring your re-knitting, fingering your vulnerabilities, savoring the exquisiteness of your developing self. Some of us are slumming. Some of us are restless in our trespass. Aware to ask your permission. There is a soul here forged from breath, blood, the salty emissions of putting you back together. Forgive us our trespass as we forgive those who trespass against us. Tuck this poem in your gap. The narrow planned weakness closest to your heart so that it might lessen the grinding of your sway. Salve an arthritic joint. Keep us able to stretch long distances without falling down. Keep you nimble under the weight of our stories.

Dream of the White Hart by the White Bridge
Susan Terris

A tugboat beneath a white bridge and whiteout
of a sudden bay fog. There on shore, a white hart—

no antlers yet, just velvet nubs. Picking his way on
the rock-edged shore of Yerba Buena, he seems

the hart of myth. Still, wait—I’m not on a tug but
clinging to fretwork and pylons of the winged bridge

as fog papers the shore until the hart is a cutout
of a deer and eerie light leaks through a lens

turning day-to-night. Leap or swim, I must reach the creature angling
in and out of cloud-matter that

accordians into white tissue with pleated figures
shrouded and holding hands, ringing and guiding

him. I, too, am ringed, balanced precariously
on rock near the stag but unable to draw closer to

his stalk legs, his translucent body. He turns toward
the arched bridge, bridge to another world, and as he

leads, I follow, trying to close the distance between us.
Though he’s only a whited shadow now, I

hear the faint wheeze of the hart, fear it and the beat,
and again, beat of my pale and unabridged heart.

Self-Anchoring Suspension
John Perry Barlow

There, almost on the way to
Where to there was no there,
It waits to hang on itself
And be or not be
What we might become again.

Whether thought, or said, or built,
Everything beautiful must contain within
Its own belief.
And it is in the nature of bridges
That they contain ours as well
For both in building and in crossing,
They require of us an act of faith.

Near here there is a bridge
The whole world loves.
Like Liberty, it frames an entrance with hope.
Made by Americans grateful to be making,
It was a statement of mad conviction
That America is great and will be.
Now today and every day ships pass beneath it,
Bearing proof that America no longer makes
But rather buys cheap.

And also today, this upstart bridge rises
To a gloomy occasion.
Though mostly made on the same ambitious shore
Where the Walmart ships are filled,
Paid for with money borrowed from those who fill them,

Take some solace: it was designed to be beautiful
It’s builders hope that its beauty might inspire
The young to believe they might one day
Dream to aspire and build other soaring bridges then.

But to do that now, with convictions so unsure,
Requires of us a self-anchoring
Suspension of disbelief
From which to make ourselves again.

Go with the Flow
Clare Ramsaran

If the earth moves for you, baby, and you know
it probably will, if it moves so bad, so good that you forget
your own name, then don’t you fret, or shake your head,
just follow this stud’s rhythmy hips, as they slink and sway
with the rocking and rolling right there beneath us. Trust me
I’m a mover and a shaker, baby; I might unfurl you or unnerve
you but never desert you; it’s cosmic baby, it’s tantric,
it’s seismic, it’s tomorrow, right here today.

for Bart Ney
East Span, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
Katherine Hastings

Over the bay’s wind-blossomed body,

a soaring of light and motion. Newborn

might made of dreams and well-worn knees.

The sky casts off her old gray dress for a plume,

blithe and mad with beauty —a cool white life

wrapped in silver air. Behold the sleek rachis

rising on the backbone, its white vanes a gleam

in Oakland’s lovely eye. Breath of Yemanja

brushes through, brushes through. How quickly

this bridge becomes a part of it all, mingles

with the flow — the sails below, the breeze

wandering along its piers —pursues its flight

into clear, Elysian atmosphere. Muse, lyre,

feather and wing, raised to our eyes you bring

radiance. Hold us in your elegant arms,

carry us over the world solidly, no sudden

gaps to mind, no trapdoors. No trolls.

Just angels thick as under-sky, here on the inland sea.

Note: The word engineer is from the Latin root ingenium,
meaning “cleverness.” “Yemanja,” in the Yoruba religion, is the
ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a protector of children.

The Elements of Bridge Dedicated
to the Raising Gang
Marcella Ortiz

the gums of Red Wing boots wedged into
the elements of bridge

sun burnt eyes reading traveling headers
wiping off all the bird shit which
blankets all these ginger bread beams

seagulls eat there breakfast on our iron
animal carcasses which shower upon shoulders
feeding our fabrics
hydraulic equipment oil watering bodies

mixture of sweat and rain
drenching thermals
rust building up underneath finger nails
and in between wrinkles

sliding chap stick on to relive the wind burn
underneath jeans
Shin guards knock on the come a’ longs
knee pads bumpin’ upon
the elements of bridge
6 years of this has a way of building you up
breaking you down with these
12 hour shifts

unite this steel together
beat the hell out of this iron
manipulate it to fit for the next fifty years
the elements of bridge

Ode Abridged

“Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tamsin Smith

Fog veiled I could be a wind-strung harp
Laid down by a luminous god.
Sole spine cresting a chorus of waves
For the pleasure of mortals awed.

Hear in these notes a wonted reprise
Your melody buckle to mine.
Our everest wish: for spirits that soar
Wide-winged with an ache sublime.

No fault, nor tremor can break the flight
Of a free form tethered in air.
Give a sign, cast a line
An oar, a shore, a dare.

Join rock-socket soul to shear-link dream
In union we meet our test.
Move through my islands, arise and come.
Be transported. (Thy East upon My West)

This wandering verse may time traverse.
Let first-feelings whisper true.
For all we can claim of an anchor in life,
Is a sea-sifted pas de deux.

Experiential Poet Stares At The Word Seismic To See How Many Words She Can Make From It When The Lecture About The Bridge Runs Too Long
Susan Terris


I’m a mess, Ms. Tamsin. Too many
isms. Semi and more semis. A tic
of the eye. A sec ticks by then more
secs. I’m seeing, not sly harbor rats,
but a plague of mice or new ice age—
and do I want an em dash here or an
en dash? The mice are fleeing into a
cess. Is this talk going to end soon?
I don’t want to miss the Bay Bridge.
Do sic someone on the talking man.
Can we see the bridge now? SEISMIC
has been thoroughly deconstructed
and the bridge itself deconstructed.
I am restless. Mice are restless, too.
I’m throwing out dice and ices. Sice
and sice. We need cessation. Sis, I
call not mess of mice on ‘em. I call
instead on that ancient goddess of
magic and fertility: Isis. Sices! I’m
saved—now magic me to the bridge—
again, sice and double sice.

The Beating Bridge
Jack Pitts

It’s hard to bestow grace notes of admiration, let alone awe, in a rampant age. You have to make an exception for hummingbirds of course, with their mosso revolutions and fluorescent whirls and otherworldly vibrations. Most of all for their literal hearts, which dwarf ours. Here on the recent edge, education and limited history clash to produce our beloved fissions of turbulent idealism. I observe and participate while clarity fractures and suffers and the lies taints hypes dismays doubts are assigned and become everywhere expected. I can’t help it.

And yet I watch agape as our new bridge of steel and cement and skin blood bone mind – and who knows what exotic global minerals – slowly takes shape. Ooooh yes! – it’s designed with due regard for the inevitable deadly vibrato. OK. Whew. Thank you. But for now its construction proceeds (will it make it in time?!) I see it, deeply rooted, connect, rise, connect some more and rise again, regulating freshly disjointed sunlight across my altered bay, establishing a new eon for water rhythms of light and shadow. Will their patterns really be set in and by this stone for a hundred and fifty years?

I am not wary.
Handsome, high, staunch and graceful, its particular shade of white a nod to the partner gulls. For now ‘awesome’ and ‘admirable’ are each easily bestowed.
As gift, it’s half un-wrapped and tantalizing.
As metaphor or simile, it’s pre-mature (though it retains the rights, obviously) and compelling.
Vibratory. Visceral.
Vast as a hummingbird’s heart.

Poem to the Bay Bridge
Albert Flynn DeSilver

he said it was being
built with language, with
words, the stickiest hue
of the human heart

self anchored suspension
he said, words
anchored to their origins
in the sun—
linked box girder decks, their flattened
necks outstretched
reaching reaching
across ages, ages, races, ideas—
yes, and time’s self-feathered flight—

cables in tension,
the intention then of a million
minds minding—
spinner cables
spun from the spider tower
the hours, threads of thought
cast across bay waters, trapping cities
in it’s gauzy white grasp,

the merging of all trades,
he said
for the poem to complete
we need a merging—
shear link beams,
beaming like a people’s quick eye,
rolled steel dowels howling
how only a pacifist sea can howl,
orthotropic box supports
supporting the weight of our words,
seismic in their shivering from unpredictable lips
unseen shivers from within
ancient wounds made up of words
hung up in a steely shrug, our
mega pilings—sentences piled
upon us dug deep within, rage piled on joy
piled on fear piled on peace piled on love, sentence
sent trembling into us, sent linking back
into the bed rock of us,
to city centers, sentences linking
oaktown to treasure island into mission city
threaded across cloudlets, cormorant wing tips,
continents, as if from multiple earths
this poem is made from,
is forged in the mind
of the sun, in the heart
of the farthest star.

What if God is Very Small?
Kirsten Jones Neff

What if god is very small
smaller even than a bead black spider

drifting across the center of her web.
God, no more than a beetling speck within

radiant lines, white upon an empty blue
smaller even than a minute size you

hanging from the glistening bridge
inching along the unfinished span, flexing

and swaying, day by day, across the trusses
the braces and barriers, building a cement

web so big we cannot see it, torsion
ties and joints, a construction of flawless ribs

shoulders, haunches, now a catenary tension
flowing into towers, a suspension over eons

braced against the flutter, a rising lattice
of motion, belted into this creation

the design of our underlying connection
all life a series of desirous arching.

And what if our miniscule god knows
that one bridge across one empty space

leads to the next to the next to the next
in an infinite series of reaching across emptiness.

Swan Bridge

“I feel prouder to live in the East Bay.”
— Overheard poet touring construction of the new eastern span,
San Francisco—Oakland Bay Bridge, April 6, 2011

Katherine Hastings

On the old east span
a small troll stands riveted.
On the new span, us


Some words tossed around:
Pinnacle of seismic calm
Backbone of the state


Between the clear hills,
pale as the moon, it rises,
sweeps up from the shore


Her beautiful shape,
parabolic curves and wings,
scale the upward sky


A white swan feather
floats disconnected from earth
Pearl orison


Before you can reach
the lustrous light of Oakland
you know you’ve arrived


A cloud torn from sky
engineered into a bridge
inspires angels

In Transition
Alex Fernandez

in between concrete
cars move like cattle
like ants
with purpose
we tango and mamba over passes
some swing
and spin out of control

all this
to carry cargo
carry people
carry luggage as well as baggage
over the space of the in between
where magic happens

we make connections
in between
here and there
and who cares right now
if there is no there there

forget about the finish
why don’t we just live in the transition
the moment of passing over delicacies
we tiptoe and even the atheists
throw up prayers for safe passage
traversing over like vibrations
over violin bridges
that reverberate inside
and remind you
of the music that plays within

live in the migration
in the journey to the known
but not yet arrived
in the forging of steel
and cement
to shape spinal backs for you to cross
through the one path maze of metal monsters
that pull on heart strings
and bind siblings

how does it feel to exist in transition?
in the migration
of sojourns
fleeing and returning
in search of their soul

Not a Metaphor
Ben Davis

that I am.
Nothing more.
I am not a metaphor,
dear poet, I am a bridge.
I exist to connect communities,
to facilitate human mobility,
to provide safe passage.
There’s no need to
look any deeper.
My meaning
is clear.
If you want to
know who you are,
don’t look for meaning
among your greatest notions.
You are only that which you do.
Yes, I am a bridge, dear poet.
I bring people together.
I span a harsh divide.
What is it, again,
that you
stand for
some thing.
I stand because
I was built to stand.
Or perhaps to withstand
a force beyond all reckoning.
Yet I once fell. I am only humans,
the culmination of a nation’s
steely imagination made
real by the actions
of a great many
who became
that which
one generation’s
great gift to the next.
Between you, you created me.
I am hard proof of civilization.
I am your greatest intentions.
I am your shared desire,
your desire to share.
I am your love for
one another.
It is you

Zach Houston

Zach Houston

But who are we?
Alex Fernandez

Who are we as poets
asked to write about this bridge
in all its magnificence, innovation,
and pearly white suspension?

Who are we as poets
who take pictures
of its potential
with our iPhones
and our Nikons and our DSLRs?
Who are we as poets
who are asked to wear boots
and show up in New Balances
and muddied shoes we use for
weekend hikes?

Who are we as poets
whose sweat is not etched into its stone,
who were never inches
or seconds to left of Death,
who do not use this bridge to support families?
Who are we as poets who have not
laid the cement,
forged the steel,
or chaperoned parts on weeks-long voyages
across seas to fit bridge pieces into puzzles?
Who are we as poets who do not unpack
brown bags and take lunch breaks
with hard hats?

Who are we as poets
who have not lost family members
slung off the side of the S-curve?

Who are we as poets who are satisfied
with claims of construction
not killing any marine life,
just simply displacing it?

Who are we as poets who caravan
in Lexuses, drop top BMWs
to take pictures on the pedestrian path?

Who are we as poets
to ask questions about the structure,
but not the people?
Who are we as poets,
children at Lego camp,
with these issues?
Who are we as poets sucked into rhetoric
to iconize this structure
with undertones of
modern U.S. supreme multiculturalism?

Self-anchored suspension
but we cannot gather
the weight of this issue.
Who are we to stand on this bridge
and not make these connections?
How many stories do we need to be told
before we stop telling our own?

Duet for one
Clare Ramsaran

Two voices yoked by old ways, his throat and her throat
open, in one equal music. A conduit forms when spines
curve and fuse at the border of borrowed land. We shuttle
feral freight; plundered lumber and unripe fruit from port
to port. She aches from the weight, sinews taut as cables
brittle as broken cartilage.

Her cloven hooves stamp silence into shattered shards,
metal on metal. She slakes her thirst with drops of axle-grease,
extends callipered legs, plants one flat foot in syrupy brown mud
and emerging from the alluvial swamp, delicately sidesteps
an industrial past. She spits muscular monosyllabic prose
at the dark sky, wet with moonlight. She miscegenates
with grace, carves lithe lines in granite and limestone, writes
her unknown name in water and blood and calligraphy ink.

Her girth, the span of her childbearing hips, delivers us.
A caul washes back and forth on the tide. We rise and float
like sibilant sea ravens, while below a bony white tail
sweeps the murky water, displaces gaolers and angels
the same, fans and circulates stale air, but fails to mask
the stifling heat of fallen men mouthing each other’s names
over and over and over.

I Know This Bridge
Bonne Marie Bautista

I know this bridge
but it is not the one
featured in photographs
of my family in Sunday finery
feet crammed into shoes
not made for walking
wind-whipped winces
mistaken for smiles
for an idealized America

I know this bridge
that my father crossed
twice daily for ten years
one hundred and twenty miles
in fatigues fighting sleep
shaking off exhaustion
evading calamity
to get home safely
to me

I know this bridge
and its chorus of
clicks and echoes
thunderous meditations
blessing us
travelers on road trips
to Circus Circus
where my father once
emptied his wallet
to win me a prize
my mother’s voice echoed
and I worried
how would the toll be paid?

I know this bridge
this great structure
I found destroyed on TV
collapsed concrete
the steel melancholy
of this child’s
the stony silence
of not knowing
is my family safe?

I know this bridge
this bridge enticed
the Diablo Winds
to sing to me
on my eleventh birthday
gifted me with ashes
from across the span
Oakland ignited
may as well
have been as far as
the Philippines

Distance was delusive
time failed
as an accurate measure
of experience
childhood and adulthood
stitched together
with no soft transition
only the intangible
losses of recession
impressed upon me
by the serrated edges
of the need
to adapt

The Diablo Winds
kept calling setting fire
to my core imploring me
to break free
crack open the earth
with my questions
make it tremble
on command with
my voice my words
activate fault lines
fault lies
within me for being
of both worlds
I can still intuit aftershocks
with each incandescent step
my footprints blaze fire
and it is impossible to cross
without burning my bridges

What do I have for my crossings?
Vagabonds should travel light

I know this bridge

Amanda Gordon

Before it learned to walk
it drove.
was born in brackish water
onto trees
The, in the middle of which, harbored safely
the Rise, the Run,
the sentient slope,
subtly iconic of advanced minds
always drawn
always visited swiftly
by those unable to jump
for so long
or so far
but who were minds that mapped minds
from there to there there
from coast to shining coast

But so four wheels
and motoring along,
the view from these
become the quiet time
where once with our strength
was rigid

held clumsily in place
by the original majesty of natural architecture
Where now we have build our empire on recursion
and we use ourselves
as anchors
vibe out the old piles
batter our own steel laurels
so one day we can rest on them.

Ahem, We the Cities
become our own laps, sitting
on top of sitting on top of
everything in between.

The Span
Aja Couchois Duncan

Spanning the milky green waters of the bay, moving between here and there, yesterday and tomorrow. In between is not present, but emptiness. What is crossed and recrossed. What becomes forgotten. The bay was bridged in 1936, stitching land together with suspension and truss-cantilever. Almost 100 years later, it is to be done again. Everything is to be done again, piece by piece.

You too are restitching the same wound, moving back and forth across the puckered skin. Like sentences, repeating the unnecessary syntax. Like love. What to do with all the extra nouns. This body once belonged to someone else, this wrist, this arm once connected you to another.

The bridge can hear each mile that it crosses. Spanning one of the most seismically active regions in the world, it listens for every sigh and groan. The initial pilings were Douglas Fir, clusters of trees banded together like straw on a broom and plunged into the mud. A century later, they are to be replaced with braided steel. The metal is deaf but it can feel the shifting layers of sediment. When the fault ruptures, it will thrust the earth forward. But it is the steel that will torque and scream.

Secondary effects are often more traumatic than the first. What comes after the initial rupture. You were together then you were split in two. There is no feat of engineering that can suture you back.

Beneath the bridge lives a flock of cormorants. During the morning’s commute, while the cars head west into the city, the birds fly east en mass to their fishing site. Within an hour there are hundreds of dark winged birds swimming in rows, nearly half of them submerged in the silty water. They dive into an estuary phosphorescent with pollution, seeking their waning silver fish.

You have stopped breeding. An entire generation forgot to remake itself.

Each span is linked by Yerba Buena Island. The bridge tunnels though. Next to the island sits another, a landfill built for the 1939 World’s Fair. Treasure Island is a fictional place, a landing strip for Pan American Airway’s flying boats, the first planes to provide commercial air service from San Francisco to the Philippines. This was before the second world war, when Manila would see ten percent of its population murdered, most of the city burned. The flying boat died too, crashing one month before in Trinidad. Neither the passengers nor crew survived.

There is risk in connection. To cross sky and water. To link that which has always been apart. After the initial stitching heals, there is a violent cleaving. To begin and end with injury. To break open and closed. This emptiness, this accretion.

The falcons roost in the metal beams of the east span. Once cliff dwellers, they have adapted to modernity, to the human tendency to scrape the sky. The new bridge will have a self anchoring suspension tower, a 500 foot white blade rising out of the sea. The tower is autonomous, manifest, tethering heaven to earth. Once the sections of bridge are replaced, the falcons will abandon their nests. Biologists in white suits will foster their eggs, feed their young, release whoever survives into the wild.

What wilderness remains is the untamed expanse of the mind. You are tethered here, someplace between memory and fantasy, yesterday and tomorrow. Your heart, the dark mess of it, is home to every fledgling.

On the eastern edge is the construction site. Unlike the bridge, it is a temporary structure. At the entrance is a small exhibit of objects found during the reconstruction of the bridge. There, in a glass case, resting on black felt, are two millennia of human objects: a bottle of bourbon, a pill case, the missing buttons of someone’s shirt. Such are the things people carry and loose. On the right side of the case are the older objects, the arrowheads and obsidian skinning knives, the pestles for grinding nuts and seeds. But the most beautiful object of all is an sweat scraper, a elk bone tool curved like a hand to scrape sweat from flesh. The handle is crested with abalone beads, adorned for the monumental effort of lifting the past, its excrement, from the surface of skin.

The bridge is twinned. Past and present structures resting side by side. Soon the old will be removed and only the new structure will remain. But for now there is a window into everything you have been, everything you are becoming. You are cantilever and truss, one arm parallel to the other. Bridge this distance. Cross the hungry expanse.