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The Span

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From the old bridge we’d been stopped on,
a little below us, it looked like a diving board.
When the girl switched her sign from Stop to Slow
I saw across the river three men standing like old-
fashioned divers at its base, newsreels we’d seen
of men in swim caps. “Hard hats,” you literal you.

You agreed with “like a diving board,” but no spring
to it. Something below was holding it up, something
concrete. It was the business of your life. Concrete—
but for me the men were waiting their turn over there,
each to compete for the best two-and-a-half gainer
to knife the Tye River. They’d die, you said.

“That’s a fine span,” I learned, “a very long one—
they didn’t make ’em like that back then.” Or us
either, I thought as I almost saw the Hard Hat bounce
at the tip, his one knee up to his waist.
“Inspectors,” you said as we drove across, “lolly-
gagging.” Whichever. Our span is ready.

Source: Poetry (October 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Span

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