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Pensacola Beach Bridge
I would cross it each new summer, a toll bridge
with a hill in the middle to let boats through,
the dolphin sign a carnival pointing the way.
I'd throw coins in the basket, hear the rattle and ding!
before the striped arm went up.
The old bridge sat alongside, its draw removed.
Fishermen lined its rails, gulls dived for scraps.
Everything eased, like my brown legs into sand.
Hard bodies, new drugs, I crossed over to them
with the songs on the radio -- Take Me to the River,
What a Fool Believes, How Do I Survive.
Last September, a storm with a boy's name
destroyed it. Photographs show great chunks gnashed away
en route to the remnants of Oriole Beach, Palafox Street.
The birds calling over Pensacola Sound don't know
how the seasons rush, single days like the fish
they swoop down upon.
Perhaps there's no bridge to anywhere we've been.
All those stars we see that no longer exist.
In the blaze of the September sun, the glints
on the still water under what remains.
August in Préau
Maybe it's the sky that reminds me of Icarus. The clouds,
the way they move, and the handles of the idle plough
take on the shapes of legs, its coulter the body.
If only he'd float instead, drift into this field
where a farmer left his tractor, a patch of rust and red
against the dry grass, each blade thick and sharp, waist-high
in the spring. The plough's a sentinel with no food
until summer, its wheel a mill heating the cut hay.
Fires in the South of France have slowed with the storms,
but in our garden near the Vienne, words dry
before they reach the page. I consider the word dearth,
find air and earth, water and death, and the wind
that held Icarus as he flew, just for a moment,
into the senseless clouds.
There's a man out feeding Crowtown --
pools round his feet,
beaks stark against white crumbs
and not a pigeon in sight --
they used to gather on the other side
of the field, but not today,
today it's all crows and the muttering drops of rain
and a blue-grey squirrel who leaps like Nijinsky
across the dry leaves.
They're big, these crows
and they're plotting something.
I heard one of them the other day
talking to himself above my head
as he lumped across my metal roof
with the weight of a man.