A footbridge spanning a gorge
a thousand feet deep, a strip
of chromium river wrinkling
as it shrugs itself out to sea.
The Pacific lolls stark naked
with its favorite birds clinging.
Inland, the river source tinkles
down a far-off mountain slope.
Let’s join the other tourists
and browse across the bridge with
only casual glances down.
Yes, I know you need photos
to prove that this earth-slot exists,
but better to buy a postcard
than risk the vertigo for which
old-timers like us are famous.
Rather than lean over the rail
and look down I stare straight west
to the aqua sea horizon
misting the curve of the planet.
We mustn’t risk falling that far
into the open maw of the world.
The ocean doesn’t know we’re here,
sparking across this little bridge
with its massive overview.
The great bulk of water ignores us
and goes about its sloppy business,
trespassing on our properties
without the slightest taint of motive.
I’d better look inland where
folded hills look as cozy
as fat people after a meal.
You can look anywhere you want,
but please keep away from the rails
and don’t let the drop to the bottom
maim everything we stand for.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.