Monday, March 1, 2010

Bridge Angel

When you’re coming into town in the morning on the Ohio River Boulevard, and you take the Fort Duquesne Bridge, it’s quite congested. There’s lots of traffic spread out across four or five lanes, all going the same way. People are switching lanes and aligning themselves with whichever ramp they need to use to get to whatever part of town they’re destined for. The deck above moves in the opposite direction. I come into and out of town on the same bridge. In the morning, on the way in, light plays into the sides of the lower deck. As the lanes all split away in their various directions, the same morning light comes down in beams between the upper deck’s various ramps. It looks beautiful. This morning, as I took the far left ramp, towards the 10th Street Bypass, I saw an angel floating slowly down through the ramps of the upper deck, through the beams of light. I had never seen one before, so I didn’t know how to react. Impossibly slow and gently rotating, it was incredible. When I got closer, I could see that it was a giant sheet of newspaper, semi-crumpled, floating on its way down to the river. As I passed it, I looked in my rearview mirror and watched it descend below the rail between the divergent ramps. Bob Dylan kept on coaching me via the stereo. “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting’ there…” I drove on to work, and thought about my angel and my life and my place in the larger picture. It occurred to me that maybe the crumpled newspaper descending the decks of the Fort Duquesne Bridge on its way to the river wasn’t actually an angel at all, but instead a piece of toilet paper falling through the bridge’s crotch. Maybe the bridge was wiping its ass, trying to clean itself of us all.

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