[…]


Magdalena Zurawski

from the novel The Bruise

The Bridge


             If a person stood on campus facing east she could see beyond the towering Science Library a rusty iron bridge on the horizon open and erect over the Seekonk river. If a person stood on the road that ran along the river she could see that the bridge was preceded by a field of tall grasses that grew to the very edge of the river and seemed to grow to the very mouth of the bridge though there must have been a road that led on to the bridge or had once led on to the bridge but I had never walked that far out to the bridge but only once stood in the grasses in front of it.
             Only once had I walked to the bridge. Once when I first came to school and knew nothing about the bridge. I walked to the bridge early in the morning because I couldn’t sleep. I headed east towards the bridge because I could see the bridge clearer than anything else. And following the sight of the bridge I walked past the Portuguese bakery and past the wooden houses of Fox Point over the little league field into the grasses where I stopped and stood though I hadn’t quite reached the bridge — the rusty bridge rising several hundred yards in front of me — and I watched the early sunlight filter through the rusty girders of the old bridge until the light of the horizon became so bright that I had to turn away.
             There were many stories about the bridge and many stories about the places around the bridge and often when people wanted to be alone they walked towards the bridge and stood in the grasses staring at the bridge and the water and the sun. And once in the dining hall Nate told me that if I had gone just a little bit north of the bridge just a little bit beyond the little league field I would have come to a stretch of road along the river that was cut off from sight of any houses. A stretch of road that was flanked on one side by the river and its grasses and on the other side by woods. Nate said if I had just walked north along the river I would have come to this road and along this road by the river I would have found a string of cars parked not all in a row one in front of the other but a short distance from one another and if I came to this stretch of road and saw these cars he said I would see in many of these cars a man sitting alone at the wheel and I would wonder why so many men were sitting in cars alone along the river but then Nate said possibly if I waited long enough I would see one of the men maybe get out of his car and walk over to another car and get into the car with another man. Or I would see two men walking across the road into the woods together. And he said that he knew a boy from school who had walked down to that part of the river and had gotten into a car with one of those men. And the man told the boy who Nate knew that if his wife was only willing to do to him what the boy was willing to do to him along the river he wouldn’t have to come and park down by the river. And though I still thought the bridge was beautiful after I heard the story from Nate I never went back to the river and each time I looked east from campus and saw the bridge erect in the sky even though I still thought it was beautiful for some reason the sight of the bridge despite the fact that it was still beautiful made me feel very lonely.

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