New Splice (55 16th)

New Splice (55 16th)

Sometimes before the real structure of a bridge

is built the builders first fly a kite across the gap,

an almost invisible, impermanent string

along which gradually heavier lines can be carried:

the tenuous kite string draws a catenary formwork

holds its shape in space and imperceptibly pulls the sides together

until steel cables that will outlast the metalworkers

are finally fixed in place.

Such fleeting lines tie almost every part of a city

to almost every other part and every line

has to be remade, re-tied to new posts and pillars and

stretched over the next bridgeable gap.

If any city is unfinished it’s this one,

Uncoiling and recoiling, unwinding its lines then spooling them up again.

In Mission Bay the Fifty-five line is knotted into the piers of Old Long Bridge

unfurling a block at a time across the marsh and over the Mission creekbed.

Soon it’ll be hauled out of the fill and mud to be restrung,

hitched to Irish Hill, braided with the rope walk at Tubbs Cordage,

a new splice ready to tie to the kitestring,

waiting for a gust to hurl it skyward once more.