Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Last Ferry

You would have thought it stopped
Once the bridge was finished,
But it didn’t. Eighty

Years, a full human life,
It continued to cross
Daily, keeping schedule.

An epic catalogue
Would sink carrying all
The changes of those years.

Then, finally, it stopped.
There was only the bridge—
Well, bridges—after that,

And those bridge crossings were
Themselves celebrated
And nostalgic by then.

Would it have been likewise,
If it had been a bridge
To start with, no ferry,

No long pole, no obol?
Why ferry, anyway,
As opposed to wading,

Swimming, rowing, sailing?
The real trip stays one way,
So why pick an image

Of endless back and forth,
To belie the only
Sure tour of no return?

In those decades after
The bridge had been finished,
While the ferry still crossed,

What percentage of souls
Never came back to shore
Following one crossing?

Pretty small, probably,
Probably most of them
Passengers for that last

Ceremonial ride.
But the image lingers
Of crowds waiting to board,

One of them a poet
Staring at the river
And rhapsodizing vast

Declarations, since words
Can do that, can leap straight
Over the slow passage

Of experiencing
To sum up all eras’
Black shadows at nightfall.

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