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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Sometimes a plank
..... in the bridge
.......... gives way
though the beams are strong
and the structure sure,
for the span was tied quite long ago
and Time undoes the things
man touches most…
And so it seems that just when all feels
save and sound—
..... a plank
.......... gives way..
and we who tread
are frozen fast with fear…

‘till Time (which touches not the soul)
and Eternity (which does)
..... gives Faith
.......... to cross again.
© Copyright October, 1995

“The Swinging Bridge” in Croswell, Michigan, is a suspended footbridge that spans the Black River. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

We used to play on this bridge whenever we visited my Uncle Neal and Aunt Jackie and their boys. It ‘s over 200 feet long and has been there for over 100 years. Its name comes from how it sags and sways in the jostling undulations of its traffic. We’d sometimes stop in the middle and cable as others passed, we’d hold tight to the cable, bobbing like clothes pins on an empty line. It was enormous fun.

One spring, however, I bounded down the wooden swag, heard a dull crack under my foot, and clenched the side cable as I stumbled to a halt. One of the 2-by-8 planks had broken around a not and was dangling by the lower cables. The river was about ten feet below. I was too frightened to take another step.

Everyone on the bridge stood still in empathy except my father who stepped toward me, stretched out his hand and said, “It’s all right, Tom. We’ll just step over it.” I held my breath and slowly continued up the other side. We laughed as we stepped past the moorings and descended down the steps to solid ground, but the bridge was unusually quiet the rest of the day.

They say deaths come in threes, and in 1995, my father passed away in April, my wife’s grandfather (who had lived with her parents for many years) died in August, and then in October Julie’s father had a severe heart attack and after surgery remained comatose for three days. We truly did not know if he would pull through, and on the most uncertain day, that feeling of the broken plank on the bridge rushed over me again.

(By the way, my father-in-law fully recovered and continues pastoring his church to this day. The sign over the bridge says "Be Good To Your Mother-in-Law" and that has never been a problem. She and "Dad" have been second parents to me for over 30 years.)

Note: The full meaning of the poem relies on the dual meaning of the word "plank," the word "cross," and on an understanding of what span was tied quite long ago.


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