“Bridges,” a poem by Zara Raab.

Burned, built, fished from …

We celebrate National Poetry Month with this meditation from Zara Raab — a consideration of all a bridge might mean. We offer you a broadside to download and print at home — or scroll down to read the poem in regular Medium form.

Download to print at home.


Zara Raab

Coming to the Rhine in ’45

the first thing the army did

was detonate a bridge,

and as men are meant to do,

they soon directed traffic there.

I knew the why, knew ruin

came before the ziggurat, but

recalled a bridge left standing

while a new one was built.

In time they lowered it:

bound for Shanghai or Taiwan,

beam by beam, iron by iron,

bolt by bolt, into the long ships.

With menacing metal jaws

that arch and open above

the river’s reedy throat,

tower-to-tower, a drawbridge

would spare me the bondage

of scuttling back and forth:

I’d simply go out in my boat.

(I’m old, but not up for that.)

You’ll find me every day

with rod and pole as I fish

from the river all my trash

and haul and cart it away,

for by ’03, I had burnt

mine; as for nights, they’re spent

in a deep-river caisson,

digging pylons for a new one.


Zara Raab’s full-length books are Swimming the Eel and Fracas & Asylum. She has also published two chapbooks, The Book of Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin, or What’s in a Name?, which was a finalist for the Dana Award. Other work has appeared in Verse Daily, Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Nimrod, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She has published literary reviews in Poetry Flash, Ravin Chronicles, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She has interviewed Chana Bloch, Cathy Luchetti, and Stephen Kessler, among other notables.


Like what you’ve read here? You might also be interested in Alan Cheuse’s take on a certain bridge and its closing, “The Jersey in Me.”

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