I-35W bridge: Readers' poems span the divide

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 2:18 PM
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Officials and workmen continued to investigate the scene of the I-35W bridge collapse early Saturday, August 11, 2007.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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Todd Boss, a St. Paul poet, crossed the Interstate 35W bridge 20 minutes before it collapsed in 2007, killing 13, injuring 145, and leaving a tangle of wreckage in the Mississippi River. That experience inspired him to start a series of poems about what he called “a huge civic tragedy.”

He ended up writing 35 poems, each 35 lines long, which the Star Tribune published Wednesday, on the fifth anniversary of the collapse. The poems, “Fragments for the 35W Bridge,” also are part of an art installation and an audio composition at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

We invited readers to write their own “fragment” about the 35W bridge, and many of you took us up on the offer. Here is a selection of those poems:
 

35W Poem
for want of design
bridge plates were lost

for want of the plates
a bridge was tossed

dropped through the air
as if no one cared

all for the want
of some bolts and design
John Harrington, Stacy
 


Quotes from a survivor
He could not conquer the bridge.
But he would climb above the pain and uncertainty.
Garrett’s words still stick with me:
“It’s the top of the mountain that puts us closest to heaven.”
Audrey Kletscher Helbling, Faribault


35W Poem
She gets lost in translation
from east to west banks. Haunted
Bohemian Flats. A death
smell lingers in gnarled scraps
of steel still laid out
to dry under scrutiny.
Wasn’t the river’s fault.
Amy Nash, Minneapolis

 

On the Collapse of the 35W Bridge and the Unlucky Thirteen
A bridge isn’t a knife
for slicing time in half,
unless it is. And why
does it fail to span life,
in a nation that planted
a flag on the moon,
as if to improve dreams?
Either way, the river
doesn’t care if shores
meet — or drop to dark.
Dale Jacobson, Alvarado, MN


Body of Water
An egret flies
across the river
with a fluid,
rhythmic
sweep of wings,

it?s something
much less
than comfort --
a mere
feather-weight
of easing —

to see
one creature
lovely
and unassailable,
passing easily
over water.
Kirsten Dierking, Arden Hills


35W Poem
The only thing that shook more than the ground beneath him were his hands as he cried on the shoulder of the road that nearly killed him. He’d make it home, but would his wife?
Aaron Bauer, Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Untitled
one woman
digests
falling
quietly
adjusts
her theory
on happiness
in revision
for years
clarifies
the unclarified
tresses
begin to creak
roaring, tumbling
a bridge collapsing
a woman
driving away
from disaster
in past tense.
Ann Iverson, East Bethel


35W Poem
As vehicles freely fell fifty feet,
some clung to blacktop
and others broke the water’s surface.
Bodies were brused and broken
and several souls silently rose,
while the river rushed on indifferently.
Norman Holen, Richfield

  • related content

  • 35 poems for 35W

    Thursday August 2, 2012

    St. Paul poet Todd Boss crossed the 35W bridge without a thought 20 minutes before it collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007. To honor the 13 killed, he has written a...

  • Readers' I-35W bridge poems inspire

    Friday August 3, 2012

    Several submitted their versions of poems about the tragedy.

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