The William Gilmore Simms Prize
Drawbridge on New Year's Eve
The old turn-style drawbridge is opening.
From my car I watch two sailboats approach.
A man emerges from the truck behind me
with his chocolate lab. Strolling up to the very edge
of the drawbridge’s gaping mouth,
he sits, lights a cigarette and dangles his legs
into that seemingly impossible space.
He waves to the sailboats, one by one.
As the bridge begins to creak its way back,
the man quickly looks all around, perhaps savoring
his audacity. The man and dog have this routine
timed perfectly: as they saunter back,
the man’s lights up his aw-shucks smile, waves merrily
at each of the idling cars, then re-starts
his truck at the very moment the bridge nestles
back into place and the barrier lifts.
His edge-perching, an inspired caper
risen to an art-form, is a wondrous gift for me
on this New Year’s Eve, so perfect in its odd equipoise
that the last shrill clang of the bridge bell
goes through my body like the fatal bullet
of the last battle I’ll ever want to fight.