The Ambiguity of Bridges

Bridges are metaphors, and another way to get there from here.

For those who have lived intimately with a bridge, crossed it to reach the world, depended on it, a bridge is a complicated thing. Always, it is a presence that speaks our connection to the mainland, our fixed link. Unappreciated and expected, it just is. The structure creeps into our lives, though. The bridge orients us to the to world, shapes our identities. Its steel arms open to the world beyond and welcome us home.

The bridge divides. It begs the question: is a bridged island still an island? Geography be damned; does the identity of self-sufficiency remain once an island is tethered to the main by spidery steel? Or must a community (an individual?) struggle harder to define, justify, and recognize itself in light of this fixed link?

The bridge unites, gathers the island and the world close like cloth knotted just so: everything is limited and delimited here. It could be just a means, you say. It’s not. Sometimes I wish it were.

Small towns squeeze the heart. Islands, doubly so. Crossing the bridge is like leaving with the ebb tide: I’m sure to return.

* * * * *

Jessica Brophy is a an islophile and nissologist working as a small-town newspaper reporter. Her other contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

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