Poem Bridge at Dusk

The Irene Hixon Whitney bridge in Minneapolis has a poem written on the upper beams.

Not satisfied with seeing photographs of the poem itself, I had to go to the bridge and try to interact with it, as I like to do with public art.

The bridge itself crosses I-94 near downtown Minneapolis, a busy highway with three or four lanes going in each direction. I went at dusk and took a video with a handheld camera. I wasn’t real happy with the film–I wasn’t walking slow enough to read the poem on film–but if anyone is really interested, I can post it later.

I started on the sculpture garden end, next to the the spoon (Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden next to the Walker Art Center).  The cherry was controversial when it first appeared, but it is certainly popular with the public, which can’t seem to stop photographing it.

spoon sculpture

For those who don’t like bridges, the bridge itself is not comfortable.

A portion of the poem can be seen in the upper left corner.

The words of the poem:

And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
small panacea
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.

John Ashbery

Here is a link to a slide show of the poem.

2 bicycle on bridge

The other end of the bridge connects to Loring Park.  On the right is the Walker Art Center.

3 walker art center

Loring Park used to have a reputation for being rough, and as an eighteen year old college student, I certainly avoided it. Later, in the late 70’s, my straight male friends reported it was a very aggressive and uncomfortable gay pickup spot. It looks deserted now.

4 loring park

The bridge itself is supposed to have three prototypical bridge elements: a suspension element, a post element that the suspension part attaches to, and an arch element.  One of the arches is visible here, along with one of the posts.

6 bridge span

But forget the bridge.  I want to hang out around the cherry. Water sprayed from the top of the cherry makes it wet and shiny. The cherry from the north west:

7spoon from north

The cherry from the west:

8 spoon from west

Even more people show up to photograph the cherry.

10 spoon after dark with tourists

No post is complete without a toad.  Here is a Minneapolis Sculpture Garden toad, completely unafraid of the human feet walking a few inches away from it, and apparently well-fed.

11 toad

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3 Responses to “Poem Bridge at Dusk”

  1. A. J. P. Crown Says:

    Toads are everywhere these days. There’s one living outside the door here. They must love this rainy weather.

  2. Nijma Says:

    When I lived in Jordan, there was a huge frog that lived in a puddle right inside the iron gate of the stone wall during the rainy season. Whenever I opened the gate, usually late at night since I was teaching refugees in the capital too, the frog would make a huge splash and I would nearly jump out of my skin. It always took me by surprise.

    When it froze the frog disappeared. Not to worry, as soon as the sun burned off the ice, the frog was back and scaring the daylights out of me once again.

  3. Nijma Says:

    They all seem to be bow-legged.


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