Tom Gannon Hamilton | TO GRACE BRIDGES

To Grace Bridges

Trees, grown tall at a vale crevasse, crowd its edge.
They long to fulfill their purpose.
Toward nightfall a loud wind reaches gale-strength.
Yelling Timber! felling several.
Blown horizontal, giant fir swap height for length.
One trunk among these breaches the gap.

Our forebears may not be so bold as you’d think.
The exact inverse, in fact, of those limber load-
bearers who spring to mind,
pose above dizzy drop, traverse the perilous brink.
That level thoroughfare on a flat rock-slab is able
to convey stuff stone causeway or old weir can’t.

Across ages a corbelled arch will offer even greater
advantages against a dunk in the drink far below.
A stable prefab rides hollow
pontoons, buoyant, as if kept afloat by fatty tissue.

Consider too, cantilever: lateral members, limulus
diagonals akimbo, the sort
incorporating genetic material, new foreign import
or native in origin.
Suspension: vertical-cable-sinew, a taut lyre-string,
self-taught breezes play.

Fathomless abyss looms not on either side, rather
at each end, in womb-like pre-entry and post-exit
when, having stepped off, we cease to ponder
which path
separates futurity from posterity or what faith links
boundless beforehand with a vast yonder hereafter.

To have been born is to be borne upon its turnpike,
transported one-way, nowhere to nothingness,
between points
A and B: arrival, burial or burning perhaps.
This mortal span fosters doubt,
also certitude, brackets out eternity and infinitude.

Seldom true to plan or blueprint, never
the mere means to some predetermined outcome.
Daring experiment and whim pertain.
Virtue will inhere: kinetic energy, intellect, caring.

Vehicular and pedestrian-trafficked, no booth nor
kiosk per se; still, tolls are paid for upkeep
as waves erode, footing is forever undermined,
foundation budges under
overwhelming strain; at steep cost, repairs made,
a public official deems insufficient, sub-code.

Or the report rules it up-to-snuff: an icon befitting
our city; and though utility has tough judges,
a beauty-seeker often seems the stricter inspector.
I’m fond of space.
Inane infill, asinine pastime only fuel my laughter,
but moved by grace, I love choreographed matter.

Spoken text, an original melody and a chorale arrangement, conceived and performed by the poet, were recorded and engineered by Bryant Didier at B-Musique Sound Studio. A series of painted and drawn images by the author and the finished audio were brought to Marc Koecher at MK Sound-Works Studio, for editing, sequencing, and to sync video with audio. The above production team wishes to thank Vallum for their inspired leadership in arts and letters.

Author’s Bio

Tom Gannon Hamilton (Urban Folk Art Salon — Founder/Curator/Host) has published extensively in Canada and abroad. El Marillo took First Prize in the 2018 Big Pond Rumours Chapbook Competition. Non-Consultant won First Prize in The Ontario Poetry Society “Love Lies Bleeding” contest (2021), judged by George Elliot Clarke. Hamilton’s full-length collections include the critically acclaimed Panoptic (2018) and The Mezzo Soprano Dines Alone (2021), both from Aeolus House. An MA thesis (Inside the Words: The Rise of Dub Poetry, 1984) and PhD dissertation (A Poetics of Possibility, 2001) reflect his deep scholarly investment. A career musician since age fourteen, Tom was also cast as a violinist in Murdoch Mysteries, Netflix’s American Gods, and The Shape of Water, which swept the Oscars in 2018.