The arc of Bow Bridge is the muse to a swoon, a breath stealing swoop, an archer’s bow inducing soft strolls and big questions like “Will you marry me?”.
Built between 1859 and 1862 during the American Civil War, it was the second cast-iron bridge in the USA (same iron as used in a Wagner American frying pan).
So, what else was going on in 1860?
• 4 million slaves slaved in the south (that’s roughly one half of today’s entire NYC population),
• Abraham Lincoln became president,
• 14 million immigrants landed in the USA (38,000 per day),
• the beginning of The Pony Express, Missouri to California,
• the Wiyot Massacre, California: white settlers, using hand-held weapons, murdered more than 230 Native Americans. Victims were children, women and older men.
Now, two bridge poems:
Bridge Poem #1 by Joseph Butler:
A stone’s throw, maybe, or perhaps
to be more accurate, a bowshot’s length away.
And, if you cared to bend your back to oars,
just minutes in a crabbing rowboat,
And at the mid-point, high above the stream, a pair of lovers
catch the other’s eye: run unsupported
through the firmament to clasp in an embrace.
I watch,” he says, “then drop my gaze. I look away –
they’re braided in a kiss so fierce it sets the air ablaze.”
Bridge Poem #2 by Dorothy Parker:
“My land is bare of chattering folk; / the clouds are low along the ridges, / and sweet’s the air with curly smoke / from all my burning bridges.”