The Gift (excerpt)

from The Gift, by V. Nabokov

One night between sunset and river
On the old bridge we stood, you and I.
Will you ever forget it, I queried,
- That particular swift that went by?
And you answered, so earnestly: Never!

And what sobs made us suddenly shiver,
What a cry life emitted in flight!
Till we die, till tomorrow, for ever,
You and I on the old bridge one night.

Talking to the Reporter On the Eve of My Retirement

by Sharon Wood Wortman

It’s as if I am the bridge everyone else has built.
If there is a keystone (the part of the arch bridge

holding everything together), its name is Ed,
this third husband made of a sturdier grade cement.

Nor can I emphasize enough that my daily struggle
with the gravity of genetics remains upright due to

the caisson retrofitting that goes on
in my weekly women’s meetings.

I would not want your readers to think
I have been the main engineer of my life—

that story wouldn't hold water.

June 28, 2010

Stafford as a Bridge

by Sharon Wood Wortman

He made street lamps
      out of easily
        accessible axioms
          (like lower your standards)
            that we can depend on
              every time
                we drive our pens

6th Inning Stretch

by Sharon Wood Wortman with Ed Wortman

A producer from Fox Sports Network calls—will I sit in at PGE Park during a Beavers-Omaha inning? We’ll talk bridges in between the sixth’s double plays, knuckle balls, and pop flys. Fidgeting in the bleachers for the first five tops and bottoms, I begin to see our river spans as a World Series team of nine that includes the oldest vertical lift, the longest tied arch, the largest Rall bascule, a one-of-a-kind double-decker, and others with unique talents that play together in a way the fans of Portland get to go the distance. Ed, being an expert in playing positions, says Sellwood would have to be the manager, for the way it's over the hill. I put Hawthorne in as DH, designated hitter--the old girl might not run so fast, but she can still lift a deck with enough impact to keep the big and small wheels of this world at bay. The two retired jocks sit me down between them behind home plate and hand me a headset. St. Johns, our only suspension bridge, appears first on the screen. Since teams don’t have chaplains, I put St. Johns in as pitcher, for its curves, and multi-talented Steel the catcher, for the way it can hold Amtrak, MAX, pedestrians, people on bikes in cars in its big black mitt all at once. First base: BNSF 5.1, because it defends against runners coming through like a train. Newer members like Marquam, Fremont, and Morrison, with the youngest legs, play right, center, and left field. This leaves the sturdy and dependable Burnside and Broadway to cover second and third base. Last, what else but the flashy Ross Island as shortstop, for the way it cantilevers itself all over the place? The inning lasts a long time, along with my proposition that right here between the Tualatins and the Eastbank Esplanade live the Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Albert Pujols of bridges, the Ichiro Suzuki, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, of bridges, the Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron of bridges. The oh, Baby, Ruth of bridges. This being a very small stadium of a city, the announcer on my right says he studied bridges in the third grade at Alameda Elementary, I am guessing about 1978, the same year the Yankees once again out-championed the Dodgers. At the end of the sixth, we all shake hands, me swaggering off like I am a Major League clean-up hitter who’s picked up the pace of their statistics.

Rough Steel

by Amira Shagaga
Leanna Garrison's sixth grade class
Taft Middle School, Lincoln City, Oregon 2004

A bridge is like a relationship.
You work hard and for a long time
to make it strong and then you can expect
nothing to change, so when
the relationship has to carry
an unexpected heavy load,
it bounces right back
to where it was before.



This site has been funded in part by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Last updated: 19 September 2010