Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bridge

I feel like I’ll be walking a half-mile on this ramp before I’m truly on the Brooklyn Bridge. The rooftops and facades of post-industrial America rise up ahead, and I espy a curious sign painted across the exterior of a building: Read God’s Word The Holy Bible Daily. I get it: To read a quotidian dose of the (presumably Christian) bible. But without the tools of punctuation I’m left with more than one message.
Maybe it’s an advertisement for a God-owned daily newspaper called the Holy Bible. Or maybe “God’s Word” isn’t found in hundreds of pages of ancient text, but in a single, three-worded phrase, to be recited daily: “The Holy Bible.” Chanting those three simple words each day promises the devotee an afterlife of enduring happiness and peace.
Grey-bellied clouds hover over the East River. They threaten menace and chaos. I start ascending the concrete slopes of Roebling’s masterpiece. To the right, the Manhattan Bridge rises over Dumbo, but it’s only an illusion, because the rooftops facilitate a disappearing act. The Manhattan Bridge is suddenly out of sight.
The Brooklyn Bridge approach: Redefining Visceral. Lanes of traffic underneath roar and choke and honk, shaking the pedestrian walkway above; those grey clouds sweep in with a mind to consume the sky; helicopters swirl among downtown Manhattan spires; and faraway views of Jersey and Staten Island show unreachable, exotic lands.
The Statue of Liberty emerges. It mollifies the velocity of traffic, the ferocity of the clouds.
The descent into Manhattan is a circus. Hordes of roving tourists wield cameras in an assault of flashes and laughter. The anonymous reporter strains all muscle to dodge the photography. He ducks into the City Hall subway, and flees.

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