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Poems


Poem For the Rededication
of Henszey's Wrought-Iron Bridge

Design attributed to Joseph G. Henszey. Constructed 1869.

How many footsteps have these arches borne?
      And how many tires of Model A Fords?
      How many hay wagons? How many funerals?
      How many brides on their way to be married
            in the new Baptist church on the hill?

How many children heading for school?
      How many sisters all packed for Bryn Mawr?
      How many gangly farmboys
      off to join the Great White Fleet, dreaming
            of prows slicing faraway waves?

How many parades on the Fourth of July?
      How many brothers leaving for war,
      never to see these wooden planks again?
      How many lovers lingering late, listening
            as dark water gurgled below, and softly kissing?

How many women and men, on days like all others,
      crossing engrossed (bills to be paid, groceries
      to be delivered) -- not thinking how the bridge,
      on such slender iron arches, leaped the creek
            without a thought, or quivered under a passing truck,

never complaining when floods flung trees against it,
      when snow lay heavy and ice brittled its joints,
      when summer sun expanded its parts, each shifting slowly
      against its neighbor -- this work of those long dead
            still strong, still restless, tense, alive.


      Central Pennsylvania College, Summerdale, Pa. 10 May 2002


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