George Washington Bridge

The buttresses of morning lift the sun
Across an arc of steel and flying piers.
The twin cadenzas of the cables run
Like landless gulls across the hemispheres.

Out of a step of mist the caisson root
Spires from the consonant rock to the vowel of sky,
The highway rings the morning underfoot
Scoring the traffic for a symphony.

And arc and piers and highway soar from steel
Into a swinging web of flying sound.
A gull’s geometry, a flashing keel,
A flowering ceremony of the ground.

The men who climbed like birds to trap that wire,
Like birds were born to know what song and flight meant:
The tempo of an arc, curve of a choir,
The eye’s adagio and the blood’s excitement.


From The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997), edited by Edward M. Cifelli. Copyright © 1997 by the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust. Used with the permission of the publisher.