|Up: A Tent in the Arctic||[Related] «^» «T»|
Saturday, June 16, 2001
By Paul Ford
...the voices of the builders....
I walked up Court St. to the Brooklyn Bridge - the Cathedral of Rivers. I believe in Rivers. Ships sang in the harbor, trailing robes of foam; the air was white and humid.
I climbed stairs and walked half the length of the span. Tourists with cameras strolled. Bicycles sped in and out of vision.
I was still. To the South, the sails of boats billowed. The Statue of Liberty and I stood together. I turned from her, to the river.
I said, For 3 years, for 10, for 26, I have tried hard.
I said, I wanted to be a good son and grandson, a good worker for my employers, a good lover to my girlfriends. I wanted to make sure others were comfortable and safe. I was not all of these things, could not do all of these things, but I did everything I could.
I said, I've done some damage to others. I've asked their forgiveness, and sometimes received it. I made the best amends I could, took apart my brain and rebuilt it to make sure I would not be greedy or selfish. Along the way, I came to hate my body, and felt my soul was corrupt, and made myself into a kind of emotional martyr, a false one.
I said, I don't wish to be penitent any more. So I dedicate myself to something outside of myself, whether writing, or work, or the relief of suffering, and give you my heart. I will find a new one.
I gave my worn heart to the East River; I leaned over the railing and threw it. The deep black waters opened up as it fell, catching it without a splash.
Sweat came straight into my eyes and I blinked it back. Voices rose up from the anchorage, through the cables. They spoke in a low humming. The voices belonged to John Roebling, who designed the bridge, and his son George Washington Roebling, who built it, and to the workers who had put the huge stones down. They all spoke at once. In time I made out what they were saying. They said they had my heart and would bury it in the bottom of the sea. They told me where to find a new one, and made me swear to keep the place a secret. They promised me rest in the Atlantic Ocean, the great bed into which all my sleep flows. But not yet.