I was born in a golden age. Progress, prosperity, steel grazing the sky. Because I come from that time, I think, I have immense pride in what I do. I’m no beauty; I’m no masterpiece. But. I’m solid. I’m vast. I have multitudes coursing through me.
That’s not to say it’s been easy. I’ve known hardship, known abuse. Fourteen major hurricanes. Fifty-three blizzards. Unbearable heat, fire, smoke. Exploding glass and metal. Screams. Obscenities. Cigarette butts and beer bottles to the side. And worse.
I’ve known love, too. Or, I’ve contained it. I’ve felt it come, watched it go. Seen a man help a despondent woman to safety. Housed families of birds. Carried people singing to each other at the top of their lungs.
From my place, I can see a tall lady in green. At night she glows. I’ve never seen her face, but I think I might love her. Or maybe I just love that she’s always there, always staring into the distance at something I cannot see.
I woke at dawn to a sharp ache in my middle. Then very intense pain. Part of me fell. No one was hurt, but it caused a serious delay. It lasted hours and hours and then people were furious. That was when I heard the radio of a man in a Chevy Impala. It was me they were talking about. My name, for the first time. The Newark Bay-Hudson Extension Bridge. I’m not surprised I was never popular with a name like that.
After a full night of drilling and grinding, I’m back on again. It’s bitter cold and frost creeps all around me. The pain hasn’t gone away. The part of me that collapsed feels like it won’t ever heal completely.
I used to hope that a golden age would come again. More than for myself, I wanted it for the people I see every day. For the families of birds and the trees and the city and the tall, noble lady. I wanted it for me, too. I wanted to feel new again. I dreamed of a long-lasting spring.
I don’t know how much longer I can stand.
The winter is a busy time and sound, I’ve noticed, carries best when it’s very cold. The air is sharp and the echoes are bold, insistent. I tune out everything else and listen. That sound is me. I’m reverberating music. It’s steady, gentle, connective. The percussion echoes off the water below and creates wonderful rhythm. In this song, briefly, I feel vast.
Words by Charlotte Hammond
Art by Rhianna Carr
Charlotte Hammond is a writer living in New Jersey with her husband and one-eyed cat. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Capra Review, River River and The Blue Hour.